A new Public Citizen report about obstetric safety finds that the poor childbirth safety record in the United States is linked in part to the failure of practitioners to develop and adhere to standardized practices. The report, released March 12, states bluntly that "childbirth safety outcomes in the United States are dismal compared to other wealthy nations."
Of the 4 million children born each year in the U.S., almost 25,000 of the babies die during the first year of their lives. While the quality of medical care is not the only reason for this alarmingly high death rate among babies, the Public Citizen report finds that negligence by practitioners is at least partly to blame.
One of the significant problems in the obstetrics profession is the lack of consistent practice patterns. An experienced New York medical malpractice lawyer knows that the problem of inconsistent practice patterns is not limited to obstetrics - and it's a crisis in Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, as well as the rest of the country. An alarming number of people die or are seriously injured each year in the United States because of medical errors that can be prevented if proper protocols were in place. According to the Journal of Patient Safety, between 210,000 and 400,000 deaths per year are associated with preventable harm in hospitals.
Childbirth injuries often result in significant malpractice awards, in part because the harm can affect the mother and baby. In a recent article in The Hill, Robert Weissman, the president of Public Citizen, notes that healthcare providers too often criticize medical malpractice lawsuits and patients who file them instead of focusing on patient safety.
Weissman states that a good way to reduce the number of lawsuits is for healthcare professionals to stop making mistakes.
So, what is one of the best ways to stop mistakes? According to Weissman, it's critical for hospitals to take "focused, affirmative efforts" to improve obstetric care and avoid preventable errors. The Public Citizen report finds that hospitals that have made such efforts have demonstrated dramatic improvement in performance.
Establishing standardized care protocols is straightforward - it's not about adopting new and innovative techniques, according to Weissman.
Steps to Prevent Childbirth Injuries in Hospitals
The following are some of the practices implemented to foster standardization and thus reduce childbirth injuries and fatalities:
- Improving communications through training and encouraging all employees to speak up if they perceive a dangerous situation.
- Putting into place groups of essential practices known as "bundles," which must be used in cases when there are special risks, such as inducing labor.
- Cutting down on the number of unnecessary cesarean section deliveries, which sometimes are performed for nonmedical reasons.
- Eliminating elective deliveries by induction of birth or cesarean prior to 39 weeks of gestation unless there is a medical reason.
The Public Citizen report indicates that while some institutions have made progress, many hospitals have not put nearly enough effort into creating standardized care protocols. This is all taking place in an environment in which the rights of patients who have been injured or lost loved ones are eroding because of strong lobbying efforts by insurance companies, hospitals and doctors.
Patients who are injured or families who lose loved ones because of negligence do have rights, but they need a highly skilled attorney who can fight on their behalf.
For more information about how a medical malpractice attorney in New York can help you with your medical malpractice case, contact Jonathan C. Reiter Law Firm, PLLC. Call 212-736-0979 or visit http://www.jcreiterlaw.com and schedule a free consultation today.