The Rationale: Legal Realities
One of the leading experts in the defense of obstetrical malpractice claims is David R. Lucchese, a partner in the Walnut Creek, California-based firm of Galloway, Lucchese, Everson & Picchi. He is an advisor to Mainstream Health.
“While the number of medical malpractice lawsuits is actually on the decline,” he said, “the magnitude and severity of those that are filed is on the rise, and obstetrics malpractice claims are particularly expensive to settle and to try. Verdicts in these cases that do go to trial are often enormous, frequently reaching tens of millions of dollars. In one infamous case in New York in 2005, a perinatal brain injury case resulted in a verdict of $212 million. Even cases that don’t go to trial can be devastatingly expensive; in California, a typical settlement in a perinatal brain injury cases costs between $3.5 and $5 million.”
This is not particularly surprising, according to Mr. Lucchese. “Severely brain-damaged newborns who will be disabled for the rest of their lives will need various forms of assistive care throughout their lives,” he said. “This is a reminder to clinicians and hospitals that obstetric risk management is essential to reducing the liabilities associated with pregnancies.”
Many of the elements of Mainstream Health’s solution help avoid malpractice claims or reduce their potential impact. “When you follow the best practices in a situation like shoulder dystocia,” said Lucchese, “you improve the outcome for the mother and the child. If later, an obstetrical malpractice lawsuit is filed, you can document at deposition or in trial testimony that the perinatal team did the appropriate actions required in this circumstance. In many cases, the documentation in the record that the right procedures were followed in response to, and during, the shoulder dystocia may result in a plaintiff’s attorney deciding not to file an obstetrical malpractice lawsuit. And if a lawsuit is filed, having this information in the medical record will increase the chance that if this matter is contested at trial that the jury willl believe that the right actions were followed, increasing the chance the perinatal providers will win the lawsuit.”