It's an urban myth - and one that happens to be true - that the death rate plummets when doctors go on strike. Patients in hospital are especially vulnerable to the doctor's ministrations, and it's even worse for the newborn baby who hasn't yet made it home.
A new study into newborns that needed hospital 'care' - usually because of low birth weight or premature birth - has revealed the extent of doctor error or doctor-induced (iatrogenic) problems.
Researchers monitored the progress of 388 babies who had been admitted to a neo-natal unit in Southern France from January to September in 2005; in that time, researchers witnessed 267 doctor errors, and nearly 30 per cent of these were serious. Two babies died as a direct result of the errors.
(Source: The Lancet, 2008; 371: 404-10).