Last year, the family of a baby who suffered brain damage at birth at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center was awarded $229 million for the birth injury. Now some Maryland hospitals are trying to prevent such payouts by changing the way they pay when they're found responsible for birth injuries. More specifically, they support a bill to start a birth injury fund that would pay for any medical care necessary for anyone who wins settlements—but would stop hospitals from having to pay lump-sum amounts to the victims.
Why Maryland Hospitals Support a Birth Injury Fund
Many Maryland hospitals, such as the Johns Hopkins Health System, claim they need a birth injury fund in order to ensure all victims get the medical care they need. They cite the fact that the cost of settlements in Maryland is higher than the national average and that large payouts have increased the cost of the insurance that hospitals need to buy to pay large claims.
Some worry that these high costs could cause labor and delivery departments of Maryland hospitals to close and that doctors might start leaving the state. With a birth injury fund, victims' families would still have to pursue legal action against the hospital as they currently do, but if they won, they wouldn't get lump-sum payouts.
Instead, the fund would pay for a lifetime of medical care, which means some families would get substantially less compensation than they would under the current system. Maryland hospitals predict that about seven babies per year would get access to the fund at this point—which is notably less than the number of birth injury victims in this state every year.
Why Maryland Birth Injury Lawyers Are Opposed to the Idea
Maryland lawyers have spoken out against the proposed birth fund for a few reasons. First, if the fund ever runs low—as other states have experienced with their own birth injury funds—some victims will not get quality medical care. They might not even get enough care. And they certainly wouldn't have a chance to get the high payouts they often deserve after a catastrophic birth injury leaves them disabled.
Lawyers in the state also claim this is a way for hospitals to require other people to pay for their mistakes when really they should be held accountable and work on improving the care they provide patients. They point out that this is a problem with the medical field, not the legal field, and that a fund like this downplays the importance of jury decisions and the legal system altogether. So far, this proposed bill has not been passed by the Maryland legislature.
Birth Injury Cases in Maryland
Birth injuries are devastating, as they often leave babies permanently disabled. They're also expensive, requiring medical care for life. If your family has been affected by a birth injury in Maryland, you deserve to know you can afford the required treatment for the victim's lifetime. If you want to pursue legal action for a chance at compensation, be sure to contact a birth injury law firm that has years of experience taking on medical malpractice and birth injury lawsuits.