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Risks to the Baby

While pregnant women have great latitude in assuming the risk of various medical care options, they do not have an unlimited right to assume risks for the baby. Physicians should be careful not to agree to medical care that unnecessarily increases the risk to the baby. For example, a physician should not accept a patient who refuses consent to a cesarean section under all circumstances. The physician should not humor the patient with the intention of forcing care on her when an emergency arises. Physicians should be wary of situations that limit their options in an emergency. Conversely, physicians must tell their patients of the risks that are imposed by their practice styles. Physicians who practice at high altitudes or in facilities that cannot provide proper emergency services must document that the patient understands that she and her baby are at substantial additional risk because of these factors.


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