OB/GYN Malpractice

An OB/GYN is one of the most important doctors a woman sees regularly throughout her life. She trusts her doctor with her own reproductive health and also the well-being of any children she brings into the world. If you were seriously hurt or your baby was injured or died because of something your OB/GYN did wrong — or failed to do right — you may need to sue for your injuries.
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OB/GYN Malpractice Statistics

Over 85% of OB/GYN practitioners have been named in a lawsuit. (1) The most frequently litigated procedure from 2005 to 2014 was operative procedures on the uterus. (2)

Out of a survey of 4,000 physicians, including OB/GYN practitioners, common medical malpractice suits involved: (3)

  • Complications from treatment/surgery — 34%.
  • Poor outcome/disease progression — 21%.
  • Failure to treat/delayed treatment — 19%
  • Misdiagnosis/failure to diagnose/delayed diagnosis — 17%, such as:
    • Ovarian cancer.
    • Cervical cancer.
    • HPV (human papillomavirus). HPV can lead to different types of cancer over time, including the reproductive organs.
  • Wrongful death — 14%. Wrongful death is a highly complex type of personal injury. Each state defines wrongful death by its own legal parameters.
  • Abnormal injury — 11%.
  • Failure to follow safety procedures — 1%.

Injuries Caused by Malpractice

Any number of things can go wrong during an OB/GYN procedure. Sometimes mistakes happen during pregnancy or when a woman gives birth. However, mistakes can also occur during routine exams or other types of surgical procedures. Some mistakes lead to serious, even life-threatening complications.

Uterine Rupture

The uterus is made up of three layers: the endometrium (inner epithelial layer), myometrium (smooth muscle layer), and perimetrium (serosal outer surface). If all three layers separate, the uterus has ruptured. Uterine ruptures can lead to death for a mother and her unborn child. Uterine ruptures can occur in both pregnant and nonpregnant women. (4)

Infections

With medical malpractice, patients develop health care-associated infections while undergoing routine exams, and other procedures. These infections can lead to illness, even death.

You could be exposed to bacteria, fungi, viruses, and other pathogens in any health care facility. This includes hospitals and surgical centers. (5)

If you were injured by your OB/GYN, a lawsuit can help get the compensation you deserve.

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Puncture Wounds

OB/GYN doctors rely on several diagnostic tools and surgical instruments in treating and assessing patients. During some procedures, patients are brought to an operating room and given strong anesthetic medication. Depending on the specific procedure, the surgeon inserts a variety of instruments inside a woman’s belly and reproductive organs. (6)

Each type of surgical procedure requires different approaches. Depending on the procedure, doctors may need to cut out, slice, dice, suture, vaporize, or cauterize tissue; insert tiny cameras; or use lasers. With so many possibilities for error, the OB/GYN surgeon must be highly skilled and experienced. (7)

Puncture wounds can results from many types of OB/GYN procedures, including: (8)

  • Myomectomy involves removing uterine fibroids and includes laparoscopic, abdominal, and hysteroscopic myomectomy.
  • Hysterectomy means removing a uterus; different types depend on how the surgery is performed and if other organs are also removed.
  • Diagnostic laparoscopy.
  • Microlaparoscopic pain mapping.
  • Laparoscopic removal of endometriosis, ovarian cysts, adhesions (scar tissue), or a fallopian tube and ovary.
  • Laparoscopic uterine suspension.
  • Hysteroscopic surgery involves removing polyps or fibroids from the inside of the uterus.
  • Laparoscopic bladder support surgery.
  • Endometrial ablation to alleviate heavy periods.

Newborns Suffering Birth Injuries

A birth injury involves some sort of preventable trauma to a newborn while the mother is giving birth. Birth injuries can result from the use of mechanical devices such as forceps or vacuum extractors.

A baby could also develop irreversible brain damage if deprived of oxygen for just a few minutes during the birth process.

Birth injuries include:

Legal Options

An OB/GYN’s negligence can lead to serious injuries.

As a plaintiff in a medical malpractice suit, you may be entitled to compensation for:

  • Medical bills.
  • Lost wages.
  • Wrongful death.
  • Punitive damages.

Punitive damages are, in effect, used to punish an OB/GYN for bad conduct. The court may award a plaintiff punitive damages when the OB/GYN practitioner’s “behavior is found to be especially harmful.” (9)

Medical Negligence

In evaluating OB/GYN medical malpractice cases, courts consider medical negligence. Medical negligence can occur in diagnosing or misdiagnosing a patient’s condition, in how the doctor advises or counsels a patient, and in the actual treatment a doctor performs on a patient. (10)

In OB/GYN cases, lawsuits usually focus on errors of omission or commission. In other words, a doctor can fail to do something necessary to help a patient or fail to perform an appropriate procedure in a safe and effective way. (11)

Any medical practitioner must follow certain laws. For example, they must follow professional codes of medical ethics. These guidelines regulate how doctors conduct themselves and treat their patients. (12)

“Medical negligence is said to occur when a health professional performs his duty” in such a way that avoidable, preventable harm befalls a patient. Basically, “medical negligence occurs when a medical doctor omits to do what a reasonable doctor would do, or performs an act which a prudent and reasonable practitioner would refrain from doing and as a result of which some damage is done to the patient.” (13)

Were you or a loved one injured by an OB/GYN's negligence? You may be eligible for compensation.

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Duty of Care

An OB/GYN practitioner also has a legal responsibility to use “knowledge, expertise, and caution to ensure that undue harm does not befall his patient.” When a doctor fails to meet this standard of care and injures or harms a patient, that doctor has breached the duty of care. (14)

How W&L Can Help

If you were significantly injured due to your OB/GYN’s negligence, or you are a parent of a child who suffered a significant injury during the birthing process because of medical malpractice, you may be entitled to seek compensation.

In addition, if a loved one died, either an adult or infant, due to OB/GYN medical malpractice, we encourage you to consult Weitz & Luxenberg. We are a reputable law firm with personal injury attorneys who have experience in handling medical malpractice lawsuits.

The way to begin is to contact us for a free legal consultation. You can reach out by phone or online.

Weitz & Luxenberg has been litigating personal injury cases for over three decades. We have a history of winning cases.

Here are just two of our successes:

  • $8 million settlement. This case involved an infant who suffered irreversible brain damage at birth. The doctor was advised of complications due to the baby’s position in the birth canal, yet chose to deliver the baby vaginally rather than by C-section. The child now lives with unpredictable seizures that cannot be controlled with medication.
  • $8.5 million jury verdict. This case involved a woman who claimed a hospital caused irreparable damage to her baby because they botched the delivery. Her son got stuck in the birth canal, was deprived of oxygen for 3 minutes, and was later diagnosed with cerebral palsy.

  1. Medscape. (2017, December 5). Medscape Ob/Gyn Malpractice Report 2017: Real Physicians. Real Lawsuits. Retrieved from https://www.medscape.com/slideshow/2017-obgyn-malpractice-report-6009316#2
  2. Glaser, L.M., et al. (2017, May 23). Trends in malpractice claims for obstetric and gynecologic procedures, 2005 through 2014. Retrieved from https://www.ajog.org/article/S0002-9378(17)30648-8/fulltext
  3. Medscape. (2017, December 5). Medscape Ob/Gyn Malpractice Report 2017: Real Physicians. Real Lawsuits. Retrieved from https://www.medscape.com/slideshow/2017-obgyn-malpractice-report-6009316#5
  4. Togioka, B.M., & Tonismae, T. (2020, June 28). Uterine Rupture. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK559209/
  5. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2020, January 15). Health Care-Associated Infections. Retrieved from https://health.gov/our-work/health-care-quality/health-care-associated-infections
  6. UNC School of Medicine. UNC Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology. (n.d.). Types of Surgical Procedures Performed. Retrieved from https://www.med.unc.edu/obgyn/migs/our-services/types-of-surgeries-performed/
  7. Ibid.
  8. Ibid.
  9. Legal Information Institute. (n.d.). Punitive damages. Retrieved from https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/punitive_damages
  10. Adinma, J.I.B. (2016, March-April). Litigations and the Obstetrician in Clinical Practice. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4866370/
  11. Ibid.
  12. Ibid.
  13. Ibid.
  14. Ibid.

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