Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: The rise and fall of perinatal litigation : a medico-legal examination of allegations of negligence in childbirth since 1980
Author: Symon, Andrew
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1997
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Full text unavailable from EThOS. Please try the link below.
Access from Institution:
There are many different reasons why people sue, and while a brain damaged child was by far the most common reason, this head of claim accounted for only a quarter of the cases. Clinical information showed how cerebral palsy is often an unexpected outcome. This constitutes a potential worry for all staff involved in perinatal care, and has implications for the levels of investigation and intervention. Stillbirths, non-Central Nervous system (CNS) birth injuries and neonatal deaths were all fairly common reasons for suing on behalf of a baby. For mothers perineal trauma was the most common, but caesarean section also featured prominently, as did allegations about retained products of conception, and epidural/spinal anaesthesia. It was possible to describe success rates by head of claim, information not previously available. It is apparent that clinicians believe that more investigations and operations are being conducted as a direct fear of the possibility of litigation. This higher level of intervention is at odds both with the 'consumer' demand for more natural childbirth, and the aim of obstetricians to reduce the number of caesareans. A matter for concern was the high prevalence of staff who believed they had had insufficient training in the interpretation of cardiotocographs. It was intriguing that the views of respondents about defensive clinical practice (including the consideration of leaving the specialty) were not positively associated with a direct experience of litigation. One of the most prominent features of legal actions is the time they take. While delays in initiating an action are beyond the scope of health managers, delays within the health system were, unfortunately, commonplace, and largely due to poor record keeping and administration. It is possible that the shorter time it has taken to conclude legal actions originating since the mid-1980s indicates that legal departments are becoming more efficient, but there is still a strong requirement for pursuers to be patient and resolute. Perinatal litigation is an unpredictable area; the multitude of reasons for suing in this areas of health care make simple descriptions and simplistic prescriptions inappropriate. However, the data presented in the thesis provide detailed information for a much more informed approach to both risk and claims management.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available