Who will Care for America’s Women?
The results are in: not only are high professional liability premiums impacting ob-gyn practices around the country, but the fear of lawsuits is limiting women’s access to health care. Data from the 2015 ACOG Survey on Professional Liability confirms an enduring negative liability environment, with nearly 50% of ob-gyns surveyed making changes to their practice as a result of the risk or fear of professional liability claims or litigation. Notably, nearly 40% of ob-gyns have made changes to their practice because of the unavailability or unaffordability of professional liability insurance. Unfortunately, these practice changes are having a negative impact on the women we treat. Results of the survey showed that too often, ob-gyns have been forced to decrease the number of high-risk obstetric patients they see and/or limited the gynecological surgical procedures they offer. This leads me to the question: If this doesn’t change, who will deliver America’s babies? Who will care for America’s women?
Of course, ACOG Members are dedicated to caring for women; healthy mothers and healthy babies are the goal of every ob-gyn, and that is why we went into this specialty in the first place. ACOG is committed to reviewing the available medical literature and issuing evidence-based practice recommendations for our Fellows and other health care providers. But if liability issues are keeping ob-gyns from being able to follow those recommendations, we are facing a big problem. Quality collaboratives are an important way to help make sure that those recommendations – including those related to early elective deliveries and avoiding the primary cesarean – are implemented in a way that truly improves the care that women receive, but we need a safe practice environment that allows those collaboratives to work.
A platform that supports these initiatives is the bipartisan Quality Care for Moms and Babies Act of 2015, which passed the Senate Finance Committee on July 30th. We will continue working hard in the hopes of making this important liability reform bill succeed.
Click here for more information on the survey and to access the complete ACOG National and District summaries, including top ob-gyn allegations. To help formulate your own professional liability and risk management strategy, ACOG’s resource for physicians is available now: Professional Liability and Risk Management: An Essential Guide for Obstetrician-Gynecologists, 3rd Edition.