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Medical Malpractice Lawsuits Involving Trainees in Obstetrics and Gynecology

Purpose: To characterize involvement of trainees in medical malpractice lawsuits related to obstetrics and gynecology (ob/gyn).

Background: While the liability risks for ob/gyn physicians are widely recognized, little is currently known about how trainees have been involved in ob-gyn related lawsuits.

Methods: Thomson Reuters Westlaw, a online legal database, was utilized to collect ob/gyn-related malpractice lawsuits involving trainees reported from 1986 to 2020. Details about the case, patients, and trainees were abstracted.

Results: Forty-three malpractice cases involving trainees were identified, including 39 residents (91%), 1 fellow (2%), and 5 medical students (12%). Seven cases (16%) alleged failure to obtain informed consent for involvement of the trainee. Thirty-three cases related to obstetrics (77%) and 10 to gynecology (23%). Of the 33 obstetrics cases, 4 resulted in maternal death (12%), 2 resulted in maternal disability/loss of fertility (6%), 17 resulted in fetal death (52%), and 8 resulted in disability of the child (24%). Of the obstetrics-related injuries, 21% involved prenatal care, 61% involved delivery complications for the baby, 12% were due to delivery complications for the mother, and 6% were due to post-delivery complications of the mother. Of the 10 gynecologic cases, 1 resulted in death of the patient (10%), and 3 resulted in permanent disability/loss of fertility (30%).

Discussions: This review of malpractice cases highlights types of situations in which trainees are sued and reveals the importance of designing curriculum around faculty training and supervision regarding trainee involvement in patient care. A better understanding of these trends can help programs minimize trainees’ future liability risks.

Topics: CREOG & APGO Annual Meeting, 2021, Student, Resident, Faculty, Clerkship Director, Clerkship Coordinator, Osteopathic Faculty, Residency Director, Residency Coordinator, Patient Care, Medical Knowledge, Professionalism, Systems-Based Practice & Improvement, Interpersonal & Communication Skills, Practice-Based Learning & Improvement, GME, Quality & Safety, Team-Based Learning,

General Information

Student,Resident,Faculty,Clerkship Director,Clerkship Coordinator,Osteopathic Faculty,Residency Director,Residency Coordinator,
Patient Care,Medical Knowledge,Professionalism,Systems-Based Practice & Improvement,Interpersonal & Communication Skills,Practice-Based Learning & Improvement,
Quality & Safety,Team-Based Learning,
Clinical Focus

Author Information

Summer Ghaith, BS, Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine; Ronna Campbell, MD, PHD; Vanessa Torbenson, MD; Rachel Lindor, MD, JD

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