Should family physicians continue to provide obstetric and maternity care?

Family doctors are doing less obstetric care these days.

As reported by MedPage Today, a study shows that the number of prenatal visits seen by family physicians declined from 11.6% to 6.1% from 1994 to 2004, and perhaps of more concern, 38.6% to 12.9% in rural areas.

It’s not a huge surprise, since these days, obstetricians have absorbed most of the maternity cases. One reason is that hospitals are less likely to pay the high malpractice premiums needed for family physicians to provide obstetric care, compounded by the nationwide increase in the closure of maternity wards.

In any case, there is a serious possibility that family medicine will soon drop obstetric training, which will further reduce the access patients have to maternity care, especially in rural areas.

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