Blaming Lawyers for Obstetrical Malpractice?
A recent article in Utah’s Deseret News suggests that the threat of medical malpractice lawsuits is causing obstetricians to perform unnecessary Cesarean sections. C-sections are a medical procedure where a surgical incision is made through the mother’s abdomen to deliver the baby.
The article restates outdated statistics published by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) for the premise that unnecessary C-sections are on the rise. In fact, more recent data shows otherwise. According to another article in USA Today:
[T]he most recent data on C-sections from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that the while the overall C-section rate has not budged much recently after years of increases, the rates at 37 and 38 weeks (for both elective and needed procedures) have fallen.
The threat of unnecessary C-sections being caused by the threat of malpractice lawsuits is false. Holding negligent health care providers actually increases patient safety for everyone. The rates of C-sections are actually declining. Moreover, If obstetricians are performing unnecessary C-sections, they are putting their own interests ahead of the patients. If the procedure is not medically indicated, then that is a breach of the standard of care. Doctors should do what is in the best interest of their patients. Physicians who put their own concerns ahead of their patients are responsible for those decisions, not the lawyers who represent people legitimately harmed by medical malpractice.
In some cases, C-sections are encouraged as “elective” procedures, ostensibly for the benefit of the mother. But in fact, the C-sections and elective inductions are ordered so that physicians can maintain control over their busy schedules and perform more deliveries–thereby generating more revenue–for the physicians and the hospitals. These unnecessary C-sections and inductions frequently lead to serious, yet avoidable complications. These medical errors can cause serious birth injuries. Attorneys who advocate for families who have suffered as a result of obstetrical negligence are not the problem; the problem is the negligence itself.