Risk Management in Obstetrics

2075 words 9 pages
Fahad Syed
Risk Management in Obstetrics

Obstetrics is defined as the branch of medicine which deals with the care of women during pregnancy, childbirth, and the period during which they recover from childbirth (Agency for healthcare research and quality, 2000).
The major factor that makes obstetrics a high risk area is expectation. The majority of women who are about to give birth tend to be young and healthy (Clements, 2001). Naturally, they expect to give birth to a healthy child, who is free from defects and/or illness. A key reason for such high expectations may also stem from the belief that society has become so technologically advanced that complications during birth are now a thing of the past. Hence,
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Acidity (PH) monitoring, however, is not free of problems. Often, differentiation between a high PH value in a foetus that results in potentially damaging asphyxia and one that is not is not always possible. Oxytocin, a hormone naturally produced in the body, is often administered by doctors to increase uterine contractions; however, injection of exogenous oxytocin has also been shown to increase the risk of asphyxia in the foetus (Banack, 2004). Therefore, alternatives to oxytocin use should be considered during childbirth to prevent asphyxiation. Counselling the patient in terms of lifestyle habits, e.g. cessation of smoking and alcohol consumption, is also essential in preventing impaired development of the foetus. In fact, supplementation of folic acid before beginning pregnancy has been shown to prevent the occurrence of neurological disorders such as spina bifida (Fleming, 2001). Women whose pre-existing health conditions put them at high-risk for complications, should be referred to consultants and urged to seek counselling to maintain pre-natal health.
The issue of consent in obstetrics is unique, as the obstetrician owes a duty of care to both the mother, and the unborn child. In certain instances, the best interest of the mother and child may be in conflict with each other,


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