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New study finds obstetric malpractice is often a series of missteps

When an infant suffers a birth injury as a result of medical malpractice it is natural to look for that single serious mistake the doctor made. But a new report suggests that most often it is a series of small mistakes or oversights that cascade into a crisis for the health of the infant or the mother.

The report was released by CRICO Strategies and draws upon their review of more than 100,000 obstetric medical malpractice claims. For each of these claims they chose a number of categories to determine the apparent cause of the malpractice. More than three quarters of case mentioned 'errors in clinical judgment.' While this is fairly broad category, the prevalence of some of the other categories sheds more light on the subject.

Miscommunication was cited in 36% of cases, technical error and inadequate documentation were each cited in 26% of claims. An additional 15% of cases cited ineffective supervision. While any one of these cases might have also included some catastrophic error these types of documentation and communication problems seem to highlight mistakes related to simple carelessness rather than a lack of medical talent.

The categories listed above demonstrate the most common causes of error in obstetric malpractice claims. The three most common claims are, delay in treatment of fetal distress, improper management of pregnancy, and improper performance of vaginal delivery.

Hopefully reports like this which highlight the often seemingly mundane mistakes that lead to catastrophic injuries will assist doctors and medical team in identifying how they can improve their practices and reduce the risk of birth injuries.

Source: Yahoo Finance "CRICO Strategies' Report on Malpractice Errors in Obstetrical Care Provides Roadmap for Enhanced Patient Safety" June 7, 2011

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