Skip to main content

Disclosing harmful medical errors to patients is a prominent component of the patient safety movement. Patients expect it and safety agencies and experts advocate its implementation. Obstetrics presents unique challenges to carrying out disclosure recommendations: childbirth is a life-changing, emotionally charged, and dynamic family event characterized by high expectations and unpredictability, and perinatal care is provided by complex ad hoc teams in a litigious area of medicine. Despite these challenges, transparent communication with parents about unexpected adverse birth outcomes remains critical. We call on clinicians and professional societies to pursue a deeper understanding of the unique challenges of disclosure in obstetrics and prepare themselves to conduct these difficult conversations well.