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Infant Injury Data Renews Efforts for Maryland Compensation Fund

The possibility of a statewide birth injury compensation fund has returned to the forefront, as the state of Maryland deals with some disturbing numbers about fatalities and injuries to birthing mothers and infants. The Baltimore Business Journal is reporting that 2013 statistics show a slight increase in infant mortality, along with a significant spike in substance related deaths among pregnant women and new mothers. For years, the state reportedly experienced a steady decline in infant deaths, so these new numbers are leading health officials to examine the availability adequacy of medical birthing services.

In 2013, the obstetrics department at University of Maryland Medical Center Midtown Campus was closed. In addition, Mercy Medical Center reportedly stopped working with a well known midwife service to provide obstetric care. These changes represent a decline in maternity services and, according to the report, doctors are blaming birth injury lawsuits. These physicians argue that large birth injury payouts drive up the high cost of malpractice insurance.

This allegedly turns doctors and medical centers away from this area of medical practice.
Plaintiff advocates take a different approach to the issue, directing the fault towards doctors who provide ineffective care. When they make mistakes, victims are left with a lifetime of physical and mental health issues, in addition to astronomical medical expenses. Without the option of malpractice lawsuits, these innocent patients have no adequate recourse.
According to reports, the actual cost of medical malpractice insurance makes up less than three percent of total health care costs. Additionally, payouts from malpractice lawsuits account for about 45 percent of premiums collected, while the insurance companies keep 55 percent. This begs the question whether physician’s concerns are better directed towards insurance companies than patient victims.

Arguing for the Compensation Fund

In Maryland, experts are considering a connection between the decrease in maternity services and the higher numbers of infant and mother fatalities. As stated in the Business Journal article, determining an disputable correlation is impossible, but experts say that it is a trend that should lead to further conversation and consideration. It is also reportedly leading to renewed support for the Maryland Injury Compensation Fund.

Last year, legislators tried unsuccessfully to establish the fund in the General Assembly. OBGYN doctors and hospitals across the state would pay into the fund, which would be maintained by the state for the purpose of paying compensation for patient malpractice claims. When incidents occur, a parent can choose to file a claim against the fund for a specific amount of compensation. In return, they are disallowed from filing any lawsuit within the courts against the responsible hospital or the physician.

Opponents assert that this option is inadequate to compensate for the level of pain and injury that is often experienced by the victims. Instead, all parties should trust judges and juries to review all of the evidence and make a fair and legal decision.

If you or your baby experienced a birth injury, and you believe the doctor or hospital may be responsible, contact the experienced birth injury attorneys of Levin & Perconti for aggressive representation.

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