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New legislation would establish a birth injury fund in Maryland

A bill has been proposed in the Maryland General Assembly that would create a fund for birth injuries. The fund, which would be financed by insurers, doctors and hospitals, would provide a means of compensation for neurological birth injury victims, as an alternative to a medical malpractice suit. Patients would have to apply to the birth injury fund, and an alternative resolution official would then determine whether to award compensation. Patients would need to show evidence that they suffered an injury. Patients would still be allowed to bring a medical malpractice claim against doctors and hospitals if the healthcare provider acted maliciously.

Supporters of the bill claim that malpractice suits can result in multimillion-dollar awards, creating a significant financial burden on doctors that could result in the closure of clinics. They also believe that the fund would be a way to compensate victims for accidents that occur during the birth process that may not rise to the level of malpractice.

However, those who oppose the bill believe such measures would reduce accountability for negligent acts. In addition, some believe that the financial burden associated with medical malpractice suits is blown out of proportion. Instead, hospitals and doctors should focus their energies on providing competent and quality care to patients.

As it stands, this bill is simply that -- a bill. As the laws regarding birth injuries and medical malpractice currently stand, victims of birth injuries are still able to seek compensation through a medical malpractice suit. In general, in a birth injury claim it must be shown that the injury was avoidable if the doctor or hospital took due care.

Birth injuries can be traumatic events for families who must deal with the consequences of the injury, including long-term care and significant medical expenses. By seeking compensation for these injuries, victims may be able to obtain the monetary resources they need to cope with these costs.

Source: The Baltimore Sun, "Maryland bill would create birth injury fund," Andrea K. Walker, Feb. 10, 2014

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