University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

Why do Women Sue?

Nolan, Mary (2015) Why do Women Sue? Essentially MIDIRS, 6 (2). pp. 7-10. ISSN 2044-0308

323-MID-EM March 2015-Nolan.pdf - Published Version

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Statistics published by the National Health Service Litigation Authority relating to ten years of maternity claims provoke a sharp intake of breath. The total value of these claims over the first decade of the 21st
century was £3,117,649,888 (NHS Litigation Authority 2012). The United Kingdom is not the only country to witness an astronomical increase in the level of litigation relating to maternity services. As far afield as Saudi Arabia
(Henary et al 2012) and the United States (Berkowitz 2011), reports are being published of the demands on maternity budgets as a result of dissatisfaction with care received during pregnancy, labour and birth.
The papers referenced above attribute adverse outcomes to negligence, misdiagnosis, surgical blunders and inefficient administration. Berkowitz(2011:7) suggests that what is needed is wholesale and whole-hearted adoption of ‘…electronic fetal monitoring [EFM] certification for all staff working on their Labor and Delivery floor, protocols for managing common clinical scenarios, simulation
drills for dealing with uncommon dangerous events, and pre-procedure checklists’.
The NHS Litigation Authority (2012:5) recommends that Trusts ‘…engage with the risk management process at all levels; provide suitable learning and training;
ensure appropriate supervision and support; have in place up-to-date protocols and guidance with which staff are familiar; learn lessons from claims’.
It is relatively easy to ensure that staff are sent on fetal heart rate (FHR) training days (although whether use of EFM produces better outcomes has, of course, never been clearly demonstrated (Alfirevic et al 2013) and that protocols for managing events during labour and birth are drawn up and even put into practice. It’s uncertain, however, whether doing so will make the problem of
maternity litigation go away. There is something ‘rotten in the state of Denmark’ that is fuelling women’s dissatisfaction and which ‘the system’ has not been able
to get its head round.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information:

Journal title has ceased publication.

Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: litigation, maternity services, UK
Subjects: R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
R Medicine > RG Gynecology and obstetrics
Divisions: College of Health, Life and Environmental Sciences > School of Nursing and Midwifery
Depositing User: Tanya Buchanan
Date Deposited: 12 Jul 2016 14:48
Last Modified: 17 Jun 2020 17:12

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