Women and Medical Malpractice

women and medical malpracticeMedical malpractice can happen to anyone, from newborns to elderly patients. One group that seems particularly at risk, though, is women. According to a study by the New England Journal of Medicine, women account for 60% of all medical malpractice patients. Furthermore, obstetrician-gynecologists (OBGYNs), doctors who specialize in birth and women’s reproductive organs, were the defendants in 19% of cases. This puts them ahead of surgeons and general practice physicians. These number do not prove that other genders are immune to injuries or death due to medical malpractice, but does show that certain categories of medical malpractice solely or disproportionally affect women.

Traumatic Birth Injuries

As seen by the high number of OBGYNs as defendants in malpractice claims, birth injuries are a common cause of female-specific cases. When a baby or mother is harmed during delivery, it is a traumatic birth injury. For babies, common injuries include bone fractures, bruising, or head or facial damage. Birth injuries occur when improper techniques or instruments are used, or when a newborn is improperly or negligently handled.

The mother can also experience harm during birth, through:

  • Incorrect forceps use
  • Incorrect stitching after a C-section
  • Placental abruption
  • Pre-eclampsia
  • Pelvic trauma

Out of every 1,000 infants born in the United States, 6 suffer a traumatic birth injury. Interestingly, male babies account for the majority of birth injuries. They experience 6.68 of all birth injuries, while female babies only account for 5.08 out of every 1,000 injuries. When a traumatic  birth injury occurs, or when a baby dies as a result of inadequate care, the entire family suffers; however, due to the similar chance of injury to the mother, traumatic birth injuries are likely a reason for the high number of female plaintiffs in malpractice cases.

Medication Defects

There are also specific medications and medical devices that only cater to women. Therefore, when these products are defective, a high number of women face potential harm. Birth control medications and devices are the most significant example. Mirena, a brand of intrauterine device, for example, was being used by more than 1 million users when it was recalled for serious side effects. Its health risks included internal organ perforation and pelvic inflammatory disease.  Yaz and Yazmin, two types of birth control pills from the same company, were also recalled in recent years, due to serious side effects, including an increased risk of blood clots.

Failure To Diagnose

Finally, misdiagnoses play an important role in women’s medical malpractice cases. Of course, failures to diagnose, or a delay in diagnoses, affect people of all ages, genders, and backgrounds. However, women’s symptoms can be different than men’s, or not as well-known. Heart disease is a major example of this. In general, women are more likely to have their symptoms dismissed. This causes serious harm if a condition like cancer or heart disease goes undetected or untreated.

As these examples show, it is incredibly important for women to be aware of how medical mistakes or failures can affect them. When a medical malpractice occurs, it’s important to take action right away.


The attorneys at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes represent those involved in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and other types of personal injury matters. Our firm is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Tampa Bay. There are no attorneys’ fees or costs unless we prevail for you. Call our office 24 hours a day at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.


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