We all turn to doctors and other healthcare providers to treat injuries
and illnesses; however, sometimes a doctor actually causes harm. In fact,
medical errors occur far more often than most people realize. Obstetrical
errors, in particular, impact a surprisingly large number of woman and
newborns each year. Given the often-tragic results of obstetrical errors,
it should come as no surprise that those errors ultimately account for
a substantial proportion of the largest malpractice liability awards.
Consider the following facts and figures relating to obstetrical errors:
• More than 157,000 potentially avoidable injuries to mothers and
newborns occurred during childbirth in just a single year, according to
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
• Cesareans now make up almost one-third of all births, a sharp spike
from two decades ago, when the rate was around 20 percent.
• A study published in Health Affairs found that rates vary dramatically
among hospitals, from 7 percent to 70 percent and 2.4 percent to 36 percent
among a lower-risk subgroup.
• Unexpected medical complications in deliveries were two to five
times more likely in low-performing hospitals than in high-performing
The good news is that when a focused effort is made to improve care and
avoid medical errors the results can be dramatic. Consider the following
examples as cited in a
recent article in
• Hospital Corporation of America reduced maternal fatalities from
pulmonary embolism by 87 percent.
• New York Presbyterian Hospital registered brain injuries from oxygen
deprivation to newborns at a rate 98 percent below the national average.
• Ascension Health, the nation’s largest Catholic hospital network,
reduced incidence of brain trauma at four pilot sites by 85 percent.
• Premier Inc. health network reduced birth trauma among full-term
newborns by 74 percent.
Efforts aimed at reducing the number of obstetrical errors are certainly
commendable; however, for the victim of a medical error, a single error
can be life-altering. Until medical errors are eliminated completely,
victims and their families will continue to suffer physically, emotionally,
and financially. Making matters worse, many states have enacted damage
"caps" that limit the amount of compensation a victim can be
awarded in a medical malpractice lawsuit, regardless of the extent of
the harm suffered.
As any victim will tell you, more effort should be spent on preventing
medical errors and improving patient care and less effort wasted on stripping
victims of their rights.
Our D.C. medical malpractice attorneys can help you and your family understand
your potential options to seek compensation, if you've been victimized
by a medical error.
Learn more about how to stay safe at the hospital here:
10 Tips Patients Can Do to Make Your Hospital Stay Safer