Top Causes of Medical Errors During Child Delivery Examined

The safe delivery of a baby is far from routine. It calls for coordination between a number of well-trained medical professionals, and preparation for complications during delivery must always be taken into account.

Unfortunately, even with proper planning, errors do occur during childbirth, which can lead to long-term, even life-long medical challenges for the baby or the mother, or both. A routine delivery can quickly fall into a crisis and quick, accurate medical care is vital to prevent severe injury or death.

A study released last year examined the top risks in obstetrical care. CRICO Strategies, a conducted the study and reviewed 800 obstetrical medical malpractice cases from 2005 to 2009. The organization is a division of CRICO, the patient safety and medical malpractice insurance company owned by the Harvard medical community.

The study found that, among the medical malpractice cases it reviewed, the most common allegations of medical error were:

  • Delay in treating fetal distress
  • Improper performance of vaginal delivery
  • Improper management of the pregnancy

The authors point out in releasing their findings that errors in child birth are often the result of missteps or wrong decisions by several different professionals involved in the delivery. There's rarely one single act or failure to act that can be identified as the sole cause.

Clinical Judgment Error Most Common Child Delivery Mistake Cited

More specifically, the report broke down the major reasons for medical error during child birth. In the obstetrical medical malpractice cases reviewed, the study listed these top causes:

  • Errors in clinical judgment - cited in 77 percent of the cases
  • Miscommunication - cited in 36 percent of the cases
  • Technical error - cited in 26 percent of the cases
  • Administrative failure - cited in 23 percent of the cases
  • Ineffective supervision - cited in 15 percent of the cases

According to CRICO Strategies, one in 1,000 births involves a preventable injury or death.


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