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When Can I Sue My Obstetrician or Gynecologist?

By Christopher Coble, Esq. | Last updated on

Advancements in gynecology and obstetrics mean that women have access to more quality reproductive health than ever before. But that doesn't mean that all doctors are perfect, or that all medical outcomes are what we hoped for.

So can your gynecologist be legally liable for failure to diagnose an issue, or for prescribing the wrong treatment? Are obstetricians responsible for birth injuries? And how do courts draw the line between a bad OB/GYN and a bad result?

Women's Health and Malpractice

All doctors and other medical professionals are held to a certain standard of care for medical treatment and surgery, and gynecologists and obstetricians are no different. OB/GYNs must treat their patients with the same level of skill, expertise, and care as those in the same or similar community under similar circumstances. If an OB/GYN fails to meet that standard, he or she can be sued for medical malpractice.

In the context of women's health, OB/GYNs and their staff must be competent in their diagnosis and treatment of reproductive issues, from sexually transmitted diseases to potential birth defects. If an obstetrician or gynecologist misdiagnoses an ailment, is grossly negligent during childbirth, operates without your informed consent, or otherwise causes you or your baby injury, you may be able to sue for medical malpractice.

Not all negative medical outcomes equate to medical malpractice, however, and malpractice liability isn't premised on the result of the treatment as much as it is on the diagnosis and treatment itself. In order to win a medical malpractice lawsuit, you would need to prove that your OB/GYN reached the standard of care and that you or your child were further injured as a result.

For instance, if a gynecologist suggests a course of antibiotics for a urinary tract infection and it takes longer to recover than expected, that could be due to a variety of factors and your doctor may not be at fault at all. But if an infection spreads because your OB/GYN didn't diagnose it properly, you may have a case.

Medical malpractice claims can be especially complicated, since they often involve highly technical or specialized diagnoses and treatments. If you think your OB/GYN has caused you further injury, you may want to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney about your case.

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