In recent years, reports of the increasing number of preventable medical errors have stimulated the healthcare delivery system to develop and implement programs to improve patient safety. Many of these medical errors become the impetus for malpractice lawsuits brought against healthcare givers. In light of the large number of cases that involve electronic fetal monitoring issues, this article reviews many of the claims involved in those malpractice cases and some of the pitfalls encountered in defense of those claims. Because many of the adverse outcomes in perinatal units are because of miscommunications, it is imperative that a “team training” approach be utilized in the education of and communication among obstetrical caregivers. Borrowing from the successful strategy of Crew Resource Management in the aviation industry, this team training approach has been applied in the labor and delivery area and in some cases resulted in fewer adverse outcomes, and thereby a decrease in malpractice claims.
Legally Speaking, Contemporary OB/GYN, Attorney, Long Beach, California.
Corresponding Author: Dawn E. Collins, RNC, JD, Legally Speaking, Contemporary OB/GYN, Malpractice Attorney, 41 Rivo Alto Canal, Long Beach, CA 90803 (Dawncf@aol.com).
Disclaimer: As author of the Risk Management module of the Advanced Fetal Monitoring and Assessment Program, developed by the Hospital Corporation of America in conjunction with Advanced Practice Strategies, she received payment for her time and expertise and has no ongoing financial relationship with either organization related to this course.
Submitted for publication: December 12, 2007
Accepted for publication: February 15, 2008