Palm Beach County Doctors Cite Fear of Medical Malpractice as a Reason for the Increase in C-Section Deliveries

In Palm Beach County, the rate of woman delivering their babies by cesarean section is now over 40%–almost twice as many women as the number of women giving birth by C-section 10 years ago. This figure is also a lot higher than the national figure of 31%. Now public health officials are wondering whether all of these women needed to give birth by C-section, a costly procedure that also comes with some risk.

Some local doctors say that the surgery is a safer option for them than the risk of a botched delivery that could lead to a Florida medical malpractice lawsuit. The majority of obstetricians in the county no longer have liability coverage because it is too expensive.

Other obstetricians said the reasons they might opt to perform a C-section birth rather than go with natural delivery included:

• Decreasing the risks of a complicated pregnancy.
• The increase in fertility treatments usually results in twin (or more) pregnancies; this usually requires a C-section delivery.
• More older women are getting pregnant.
• Often, doctors will perform a C-section on a woman if her previous birth(s) required this procedure.
• Teen pregnancies may require a C-section delivery.
• Pregnant women that are obese may require a C-section delivery.
• More women want to avoid labor and/or schedule the date of birth.

Some doctors worry that denying a request by a pregnant woman to perform a C-section could lead to a medical malpractice lawsuit if the baby is injured during natural delivery. In Martin County, where the majority of obstetricians are covered for malpractice, 15% less C-section procedures are performed than in Palm Beach County, Florida.

According to court information, the number of medical malpractice lawsuits filed against Palm Beach County obstetricians has dropped as the number of C-section procedures has increased. Although C-sections are now easier to recover from than they were two decades ago and they are generally designed to lower the risk of injury to the baby and mother, anesthesia and infection risks still exist. Having an earlier delivery by C-section can also affect the development of the baby and lead to feeding, breathing, and neurological problems for the infant.

Rise in C-sections stirs health worry, Palm Beach Post, August 23, 2008
Cesarean Fact Sheet,

Related Web Resource:

Birthing Defensive Mechanism: Medical Malpractice and Cesarean Sections in the United States,
Our Florida birthing malpractice lawyers represent clients whose babies were injured or killed because a medical provider was negligent, careless, or made a mistake during delivery.

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