We are a world leader in childbirth safety, but malpractice does occasionally occur
Valvira investigates an average of seven cases per year where malpractice is suspected in antenatal care or childbirth. This figure has remained constant from one year to the next. Such cases are generally referred to Valvira as a complaint filed by the mother and typically concern obstetric care at the maternity hospital, or antenatal care and intrauterine death. Statistics Finland reports that 46,463 babies were born in Finland in 2020.
In the majority of the aforementioned cases referred to Valvira, deficiencies have been discovered in the monitoring and care of the pregnancy or the childbirth. In about 2/3 of the cases, these deficiencies have to do with fetal heart rate monitoring or interpretation. Identified risk factors for patient safety include: prolonged second stage of labour; problems in information exchange; language and communication issues with foreign patients; busy night shifts; and insufficient entries in patient documents.
Although cases of serious malpractice in childbirth do occur, their number is extremely low, and Finland continues to be a world leader in childbirth safety. Having said that, we need to acknowledge that we should continue our efforts to improve patient safety.
“Every case of malpractice is a case too many, and the death or disability of a child is an immense human tragedy,” writes Senior Officer Leena Kinnunen in her blog.
Valvira is the authority that deals with the most serious supervisory matters, in which malpractice is suspected to have caused the death or severe disability of a patient. Other matters having to do with antenatal or obstetric care are dealt with by the Regional State Administrative Agencies.
Leena Kinnunen’s blog post on the topic of this year’s World Patient Safety Day can be read in full on the Valvira website (in Finnish), the theme being “Safe maternal and newborn care”.
Further information: Senior Officer Leena Kinnunen, tel. +358 29 520 9420
World Patient Safety Day (vaasankeskussairaala.fi)