When you learn you are having a baby, a top priority is finding the right provider to care for you during your pregnancy and delivery. This is not a decision to take lightly or make quickly, or you may find yourself under the care of a disrespectful or negligent doctor.
The unfortunate truth is that out of all the various physicians, obstetrician/gynecologists have the highest rate of liability claims, coming in at 63.6%, according to data from the American Medical Association. General surgeons are a close second at 63.2%, but after that, there is a big gap to third place: 51.7% for emergency medicine. In addition, OB/GYNS are the second most likely to face multiple lawsuits (44.1%), right after general surgeons (50.1%).
Reasons for lawsuits
Numerous factors play a role in the high numbers. One is physician burnout, which 45% of OB/GYNs experience, reports Medscape. When doctors feel overwhelmed, they are more likely to make mistakes due to physical, mental and emotional unhealth. They may also cut corners to save time so they can see all their patients. Other reasons include surgical errors, substandard treatment and negligence.
How to protect yourself
This information is not intended to cause you fear or anxiety, but to instead empower you with knowledge so you can find a competent provider for you and your unborn baby. Ask questions to get a sense of how well he or she aligns with your goals and values, such as thoughts on induction, pain management and the presence of a doula during birth. Find out about the provider’s C-section rate and legal and disciplinary history.
If you know any past or current patients, talk to them to see how respectful and honest the doctor is. Many women share their birth plans with OB/GYNs, who readily support them only to retract that support once labor begins.
If you end up not liking your initial choice, switch to another provider. If you are unable to, and medical malpractice ensues, you may be able to file a claim.