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The Business of BirthMalpractice and Maternity Care in the United States$
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Louise Marie Roth

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9781479812257

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: September 2021

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479812257.001.0001

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Myths of Malpractice

Myths of Malpractice

Liability Risk in American Maternity Care

(p.62) 3 Myths of Malpractice
The Business of Birth

Louise Marie Roth

NYU Press

This chapter explores the institutional culture of American maternity care and analyzes the common belief that malpractice lawsuits are arbitrary, unpredictable, and irrational threats. The high cost of liability insurance, the impossibility of guaranteeing perfect outcomes, and knowledge of lawsuits or experience with claims has produced a culture of anxiety and risk avoidance among obstetricians. At the same time, the rate of malpractice lawsuits has declined over time, largely because the cost of pursuing a case is very high. Healthcare professionals also wield enormous power to define the standard of care, which is the benchmark for medical negligence. Rather than many lawsuits being frivolous, there are many genuine victims of negligence who cannot find legal representation.

Keywords:   Risk, Institutional culture, Defensive medicine, Liability insurance, Legal endogeneity, Medical professional dominance, Standard of care

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