Characterization of medical malpractice claims against obstetricians affiliated to FEPASDE in Colombia 1999–2014: historic cohort

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Abstract

Introduction:

Medical malpractice claims have been increasing at a constant rate worldwide, resulting in a burden for practitioners as well as for the health system. In obstetrics, the problem is even greater considering that it is one of the medical specialties with the largest number of medical malpractice suits.

Objective:

To characterize medical malpractice claims in the area of obstetrics in Colombia from the perspectives of the physician, the patient, the institution, the medical care provided, and the legal proceeding.

Materials and methods:

Historical descriptive cohort of closed medical malpractice cases between 1999 and 2014 filed against obstetricians affiliated to a special solidarity fund for support in lawsuit cases. Simple random sampling (n = 279) in a universe of 982 proceedings. Variables related to the proceeding, the obstetrician, the institution, medical care, and the patient were measured.

Results:

The most frequent lawsuits were related to ethics (44.4%). The proportion of unfavorable rulings was 7.7%, more frequently in civil cases (31.8%). The prevalence of lawsuits was higher in private institutions (60%). The majority of the cases were related to patients in the second half of the gestation period (86%). In 74.7% of the cases, legal action was initiated as a result of events occurring during childbirth. The most frequent cause was neonatal compromise (38.9%), followed by fetal compromise (24.7%).

Conclusion:

Care during childbirth, fetal, and neonatal demise are critical sources of medical malpractice claims.

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