Their study gives a foreboding prognosis for the supply of doctors specialising in the field because of the rising costs of malpractice premiums. "The high cost of malpractice premiums is beginning to lead providers to drop or reduce obstetrical services. Our study presented evidence that high malpractice premiums affect where new obstetricians are locating and it may affect the supply in the future,” says Scott B. Ransom, associate professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at the U-M Medical School.

Malpractice insurance premiums vary widely from state to state. Florida is the highest-premium state, with an average 2004 premium of more than $195,000, followed by Nevada, Michigan, the District of Columbia, Ohio, Massachusetts, West Virginia, Connecticut, Illinois and New York.

Many areas of the United States, especially around major metropolitan areas, are experiencing large increases in the average costs of premiums. Between 2003 and 2004, Dade County in Florida, which includes the city of Miami, went from $249,000 to $277,000, an increase of about eleven percent.

In that same period, Cook County in Illinois, which includes Chicago, jumped about 67 percent from $138,000 to more than $230,000. Wayne County in Michigan, which includes Detroit, went up 18 percent, from almost $164,000 to nearly $194,000.

The issue of how rising malpractice rates are impacting the obstetrics and gynecology profession has been a topic of national concern in recent years. It has received widespread attention both in the media and in the discussions and writings of health care professionals.

The reasons for the rising costs in this specialty are myriad, but Ransom notes that a partial explanation is that "everybody wants and expects a perfect baby,” leading many people to sue when the reality doesn't match their expectation.

MEDICA.de; Source: University of Michigan Health System