Medical Malpractice Lawyers Examine Obstetrical Medicine in Rural Areas

Obstetrical Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice happens when a patient is injured by a doctor or healthcare provider through a negligent act or failure to properly treat a condition. Obstetrical malpractice occurs when a physician fails to properly conduct prenatal tests, safely monitor a mother during pregnancy, or properly conduct labor. This type of malpractice can take place in a clinic, emergency room, or delivery ward.

Rural Areas Struggle for Specialized Care

Healthcare providers in rural areas may have a hard time providing proper obstetrical care to patients because they often lack specialized training. Rural hospitals and clinics tend to employ general practitioners and nurses, as opposed to physicians in specialized practices. Obstetrical care is a very specialized service, and it’s important that women receive expert care when being treated, which can be difficult in rural areas.

According to the American College of Nurse-Midwives, almost half of the counties in the United States don’t have even one practicing OB/GYN. This has resulted in some women driving hours to receive obstetrical care and some not receiving any prenatal care at all. Experts predict that there will be a shortage of 8,000 obstetrical physicians nationwide by 2020.

Malpractice Rates as a Result of Poor-Quality Healthcare

A lack of specialized obstetrical care in rural areas tends to lead to poor-quality healthcare and as a result, medical malpractice. This ripple effect impacts low-income patients in rural areas who do not receive proper prenatal care, and in some cases, no obstetrical care at all.

Some rural hospitals do not have obstetric units, despite a federal law set in place by the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act. The act requires hospitals to treat women in labor and prohibits emergency rooms from turning away people without insurance.

Patients in rural areas are more likely to incur medical risks and face higher rates of infant mortality than those in more urban, affluent areas. People residing in rural areas are also likely to have a hard time obtaining care in proximity to where they live. If the only OB/GYN in a particular area moves or stops practicing obstetrics, women may not be able to access proper care.

Talk to an Attorney

The workforce shortage in obstetrical care in rural areas can lead to serious consequences for patients. The United States has the highest maternal mortality rate of any industrialized country.

If you or your loved one has experienced obstetrical medical malpractice due to a lack of specialized care in your area, one of our experienced attorneys can help.

Contact Miller & Wagner today to learn about your options with medical malpractice litigation.