Their study, published in the June issue of the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology, gives a foreboding prognosis for the supply of doctors specializing 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, D.O., M.B.A., M.P.H., associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the U-M Medical School and of health management and policy at the U-M School of Public Health, and the senior author of the paper.
"Our study shows that there is legitimate reason for concern about patients' access to obstetric care and prenatal care in the future," he says.
Some of the potential problem areas include states with the highest malpractice premiums, including Florida, Nevada, Michigan, New York, and the District of Columbia. Researchers also found signs for problematic future supply of obstetricians in several counties containing populous cities, such as Dade County, Fla., Wayne County, Mich., and Cook County, Ill., which all have high costs of malpractice insurance.
Ransom says he hopes that this study and others dealing with similar issues can inspire policy changes and tort reform that help reign in the cost of liability insurance for obstetrics/gynecology and other fields.
"Something has to be done about the skyrocketing cost of malpractice premiums in our field," says Ransom, also the director of women's health and gy
Contact: Katie Gazella or Nicole Fawcett
University of Michigan Health System