Lawsuits and High C-Section Rates

In this Salon article by Dr. Amy Tuteur, the increasingly higher rates of caesarians (c-sections) are blamed mainly on lawsuits.   My comment is that if the medical community would be more honest about their techniques and skills, the rate of lawsuits would fall.  

To the degree that the medical community poses as all knowing and totally competent , patients become very angry when things do not turn out very well.

An added benefit of greater transparency by doctors is that people would likely take more responsibility for their health and make the life style changes that would benefit them more than additional medical procedures and drugs.

Physicians play a major role is forming their patients’ expectations so it is a bit disingenuous to lay the blame for lawsuits largely on patients.

At this point, every obstetrician expects to be sued at least once in a professional lifetime.

According to Victoria Green, MD, JD author of the chapter “Liability in Obstetrics and Gynecology” in the textbook “Legal Medicine”:

Nearly 77% of obstetrician/gynecologists have been sued at least once in their career and almost half have been sued three or more times. Moreover, virtually one-third of residents will be sued during their residency. Fear of malpractice, in general, may cause physicians to order more tests than medically necessary, refer patients to specialists, and suggest invasive procedures to confirm diagnoses more often than needed. Nearly 40% may prescribe more medications than medically necessary due to concerns of legal liability. The public has responded by escalating the “punishment” associated with malpractice claims where multimillion-dollar jury awards are commonplace.

When obstetricians expect to be sued, it no longer matters how many other suits are filed, how high the monetary judgments are, or even whether malpractice premiums are rising. The only consideration when a lawsuit is inevitable is how to successfully defend oneself.

Much more at the link

via America’s frightening C-section spike – Broadsheet – Salon.com.

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  1. I think it is more complex than, “if the medical community would be more honest about their techniques and skills, the rate of lawsuits would fall … An added benefit of greater transparency by doctors is that people would likely take more responsibility for their health and make the life style changes that would benefit them more than additional medical procedures and drugs.” – I think time is a critical factor. Yes, you can spend hours with women, going through all their options, the pros and cons of each and help them to find the best solution for them. This process all takes time, and the health system is not set up to give women the time that is needed. It is much easier (when working in the system) to give patients information that steers them in a certain direction,rather than give all the information. If the woman chooses something that is not hospital policy, the clinician’s workload is siddenly increased: escalation policies come into play, management is notified, senior clinicians come to talk to the patient and so on. It is much quicker (and more efficient) to make the decision for the woman and not to give her choices.




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