The female reproductive system is an important part of every woman’s life. When a doctor is careless, fails to follow well-established medical guidelines, or is just too tired and overworked, gynecology errors and mistakes may result. As a result of such errors, injury to a mother, baby, or both may occur. A New England Journal of Medicine study reviewed 1452 closed medical malpractice claims and found that 60% of the plaintiffs were women, and another 19% of plaintiffs were newborns. Additionally, the study revealed that obstetricians and gynecologists (OB/GYNs) were the most frequently sued physicians (making up 19% of defendants in the examined cases) (i).
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Gynecologists are frequently the targets of medical malpractice litigation. Gynecologists’ malpractice insurance premiums of $100,000 per year are becoming commonplace nationwide. Adverse outcomes within the practice frequently lead to multimillion dollar awards (ii). A physician sourcebook revealed that OB/GYNs are sued, on average, every 4 years. On the whole, over 50% of OB/GYNs had been sued two or more times (iii). Along these same lines, according to a recent American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) survey, over 77% of ACOG Fellows had been sued, and over 41% of the group had experienced at least one claim resulting form care provided during their medical school residency training (iv).
Gynecology errors may happen in a number of instances:
- Mistakes in gynecological surgery, such as:
- Injury to adjacent organs
- Retained foreign object (surgical device left in the body)
- Improperly performed office procedures
- Lab test reading errors
- Failure to diagnose, particularly:
- Breast cancer
- Ectopic pregnancy (a dangerous & potentially life-threatening condition to mothers)
- Improper delivery technique
- Failure to monitor during childbirth
- Errors in fetal testing
If a patient experiences injury during surgery as a result of surgical error, and that injury goes undetected, the consequences could be fatal. Additionally, if a doctor fails to follow the required medical standard of care, a woman may experience permanent and irreversible injury.
- (i) New England Journal of Medicine. 2006.
- (ii) Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality. 2003.
- (iii) OB/GYN and Medical Malpractice Litigation Symposium. 2010.
- (iv) American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. 2011.