Minimizing Obstetric Medico-Legal Litigation - (Pages 22-30)

George Gregory Buttigieg1,2

1Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Mater Dei Hospital, Malta and 2Faculty of Medicine and Surgery, University of Malta, Malta

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.20941/2309-4400.2016.04.4

Abstract: Obstetrics and medico-legal litigation are deeply intertwined, with the specialty topping the list of Court cases in many countries. Illustrating with actual UK case law examples, the article brings out numerous clinical principles to underscore many points of importance in diminishing litigation.

The author, a senior obstetrician and medico-legal specialist, intersperses his advice with vivid reflections on the status quo of obstetric litigation in general. While strongly maintaining the need for litigation in cases of genuine malpractice, he advises caution on basic malpractice mistakes, which feed the present litigation plague in current obstetric practice. Stressing that the status quo ante will never return, he makes the point that, medicine can make the present painful challenge, a new source of re-education for obstetricians. Advice is also given to obstetric units to consider a monitoring system both to weed out unhealthy practice, which, sooner or later may surface in Court, as well as to ensure evidence based practice under its aegis.

While also attacking factors, which opportunistically and advantageously ride “piggy back” on the present disastrous situation, the article stresses that, learning from the bitter experiences of obstetric litigation, may be one positive outcome, emanating from such litigation.

Keywords: Obstetric litigation, Court, Standard of care, Ground rules, Evidence based practice, Labour ward, Unit practice.