March 20, 2022

Medscape’s Ob/Gyn Malpractice Report 2021 reported that the total number of obstetrician-gynecologists who reported being named as a defendant in a medical malpractice lawsuit has fallen steadily since 2017 (from 85% in 2017 to 83% in 2019 to 79% in 2021), although almost 80% reported having been named in at least one malpractice claim. 27% of ob/gyns reported having been sued individually while 64% reported that multiple defendants were named in the medical malpractice lawsuit. More than 70% of ob/gyns were “very” (32%) or “somewhat” surprised (40%) by being sued for medical malpractice, and 78% said they believed the lawsuit was unwarranted.

The most common medical malpractice allegations against OBGYNs were complications from treatment/surgery (39%), poor outcome/disease progression (30%), failure to diagnose/delayed diagnosis (25%), patients suffering an abnormal injury (17%), and failure to treat/delayed treatment (16%).

40% of OBGYN medical malpractice cases settled before trial. A judge or jury ruled in favor of the OB/GYN in 8% of the cases and another 8% were dismissed within a few months of filing. Ob/gyns reported that they lost the medical malpractice lawsuits filed against them in only 2% of the cases. Monetary awards to plaintiffs exceeded $1 million in 15% of cases that resulted in economic damages, with 8% of these awards exceeding $2 million. One in five medical malpractice awards were between $500,000 and $1 million.

OB/GYNs were the fifth most likely among practitioners in 29 specialties to be sued for medical malpractice, and they are much more likely than the typical physician to be party to a malpractice case (51%). 67% of  ob/gyns stated that the lawsuit did not negatively affect their career but 21% stated that they now trusted their patients less than they did before the suit. 44% stated that they would not have done anything differently, 10% stated that they would never have taken the patient in the first place, 9% stated that they should have developed better chart documentation, and 8% stated that they should have referred the patient to another physician.

In 2021, 33% of ob/gyns reported paying at least $30,000 in annual medical malpractice insurance premiums, and only 27% said they paid less than $20,000 (52% of all medical specialists paid less than $20,000 in annual insurance premiums). One reason obstetricians pay higher medical malpractice insurance premiums than other medical specialists is that the harm suffered by newborns due to medical negligence is often incurred over the lifetime of the newborn.

Medscape states that its report was compiled from an online survey that included more than 4,300 physicians representing 29 specialties. The survey was available from May 21 to August 28, 2021. Respondents included 314 ob/gyns. Most respondents had been in practice at least 25 years (60%), and 55% were at least 60 years old.


If you or a loved one have suffered serious harm as a result of obstetrical malpractice, gynecological malpractice, or a birth injury in the United States, you should promptly find a medical malpractice attorney in your state who may investigate your OB/GYN medical malpractice claim for you and represent you or your loved one in a medical malpractice case against an OBGYN, if appropriate.

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