Fear of Lawsuits and Cesareans

Excerpt from the article “Doctors take time out” published August 9, 2008 in The Jerusalem Post


“Prof. Mark Glazerman, head of obstetrics and gynecology at the Rabin Medical Center in Petah Tikva, quoted an expert who told medical students, half jokingly: “Fifty percent of what you learn in medical school will be found to be wrong in 10 years. The problem is that your teachers don’t know which half.” Also an expert in medico-legal subjects, Glazerman complained about physicians who have turned into “for-hire professional witnesses” in medical lawsuits, even though they lack the credentials. Ob/gyn specialists are the most-sued in Israel, he said. “There were efforts to reduce costs on lawsuits, but the issue is a hot potato. Fearful of lawsuits, doctors around the world tend to perform unnecessary cesarean sections.” The rate, he said, is 80 percent in Brazil, 40% in Italy and an average of 20% in Israel. No one has been sued for doing a cesarean instead of a vaginal delivery, he said, but many are sued for not doing a cesarean, which can result in significant complications for the mother. Half of Israeli obstetricians polled said they would perform a cesarean on a woman who insisted on it, even if there were no medical indications. But when asked if they would do this for close relatives, few would agree. “This is not defensive medicine, but frightened medicine. With a sensational press, a growing number of lawsuits and doctors ready to testify for clients on any side, it’s a big problem.” [Emphasis mine]

Read entire article