OB/GYN practices react to medical liability concerns

November 1, 2009

More than 63% of ob/gyns have made changes to their practice because of the risk or fear of liability claims or litigation, and 60% have made such changes because liability insurance is either unavailable or unaffordable.

More than 63% of ob/gyns have made changes to their practice because of the risk or fear of liability claims or litigation, and 60% have made such changes because liability insurance is either unavailable or unaffordable, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists' 2009 survey on professional liability (press release, 9/11/09).

The survey covered the 5,644 respondents' practices during a three-year period from 2006 through 2008.

Of the survey respondents who made changes to their obstetric practices because of liability claims or litigation fears, 30% decreased how many high-risk obstetric patients they accepted.

As for changes in gynecologic practice, 15% decreased gynecologic surgical procedures (compared with 16% in 2006). Furthermore, about 5% stopped performing major gynecologic surgery, and 2% stopped performing all surgery-the same percentages reported in the prior survey.

Nearly 91% of ob/gyns indicated they had experienced at least one liability claim filed against them during their professional careers, for an average of 2.69 claims per physician. Sixty-two percent of the total reported claims were for obstetric care, and 38% were for gynecologic care.

Of those who had claims at some point during their career, nearly 43% reported at least one claim filed against them because of care delivered during their residency.