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Fear of litigation & the decision to perform C-sections

November 18, 2018

Doctors should do a C-section if it is in the best of the mother and/or baby. Photo credit: MartinValigursky@adobe.stock.com

A headline describing the results of a recent study read: “[f]ear of litigation is a key factor in decision to perform C-sections.” However, when reading the report published by the study’s authors, the conclusion was actually that the clinicians’ personal beliefs were the major factor that influenced the decision to perform a cesarean section, not just fear of litigation.

These beliefs included the doctors’ perception of the small degree of risk involved in performing a CS, their belief in CS being a ‘safe’ procedure and personal convenience for obstetricians (not having to be available throughout labor, day and night for a vaginal birth).  There was also lack of cooperation among midwives and obstetricians, obstetricians with different levels of experience and the influence of private health care systems sometimes in association with financial payments or benefits to the hospital.  The clinicians’ unawareness of the existing guidelines and protocols, and  maternal request were also factors.   With regard to the “fear of litigation” factor, there was no analysis as to whether that fear was justified (e.g., was there fetal distress that could cause brain damage if a c-section was not done, etc.).

Accordingly, to use a headline to blame and highlight only “fear of litigation” for the rise in the number of c-sections is simplistic and misleading. The truly scary headline is that any factor, other than what is best for the mother and baby, is a factor in a doctor’s decision to do a c-section. As long as a doctor follows the simple principle of doing what is best for the patient, he or she should have no fear of litigation.

If you or a military dependent you know suffered and injury during birth at any Army, Navy or Air Force hospital, Brown Law can help. Our experienced nurse-attorney has been successfully helping U.S. military families around the world for over 30 years.  Consultations are free and confidential.  You may call us at 877-695-8757 (24/7), e-mail us at LawHelp@MilitaryMedicalMalpractice.com or fill out the short form on the right side of this page.



Sources & to read more: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/07/180730104859.htm; https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0200941


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