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Med Law. 2005 Mar;24(1):1-9.

Physicians' liability in obstetric and gynecology practice.

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Department of Forensic Sciences, University of Crete Medical School, Crete, Greece.



Litigation in obstetric and gynecologic practice has arisen as an important issue. This article aims to highlight issues related to malpractice in obstetrics and gynecology in order to point out several important aspects of medical practice, which may offer adequate professional protection.


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The four most common clinical causes of medical litigation in obstetrics and gynecology are cases involving fetal distress, uterine rupture after a vaginal birth in a woman with a previous Cesarean section, shoulder dystocia, and misdiagnosis of breast cancer. Litigation raised in most of the cases is driven by bad outcomes and not by malpractice. Additionally, both juries and the public often expect perfection as the natural result of pregnancy and any deviation from this expectation has to be the result of someone's negligence. For this reason it has become mandatory for doctors in hospitals and private practices to acquire a sufficient knowledge relating to modem management, to document carefully in writing their procedural and management plans and to become familiar with the legal aspects of medical practice. Adequate communication and a written patient's consent form are of paramount importance.


Maintenance of high standards in daily practice with continuous training, clear communication and a signed Patient's Informed Consent Form along with the appropriate documentation of any procedure carried out may provide professional safety to practicing obstetricians and gynecologists in case of medical litigation.

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