Obstetrics is legally risky because of potential conflicts between the
mother and baby.
Genetic counseling is legally complex.
Birth injury litigation can be greatly reduced with structured obstetrics
A birth plan can reduce legal conflicts.
Drug use and alcoholism put obstetric patients and medical care
practitioners in conflict.
Obstetrics has the most critical medical malpractice problems. Routine prenatal
care and delivery are the cornerstones of community health. These are
imperiled by fears, both real and imagined, of litigation. Physicians in rural
areas find it increasingly difficult to obtain affordable malpractice insurance
coverage. Urban physicians turn away indigent patients in a mistaken belief
that they pose an elevated risk of malpractice litigation. Under federal
antidumping regulations, physicians will face these same patients as
emergency admissions late in labor, when they may present a greater legal
It is not possible to prevent every birth-related lawsuit. It is possible to limit
systems failures and attendant negligent injuries, to correct patient and
attorney misapprehensions about birth injuries, and to document better the
nonnegligent basis of most birth injuries. Such strategies will greatly reduce
the incidence of birth- related lawsuits while providing excellent, cost-effective