There is a growing shortage of doctors dedicated to midwifery. In New York, that situation will get worse when Gov. Kathy Hochul signs legislation that will encourage more lawsuits against doctors and hospitals — and increase liability premiums by a whopping 45 percent.
Stressed by the pandemic, many nurses and doctors are retiring early. This is a pressing concern for OBGYNs. Trends suggest people are waiting longer to start families. Later pregnancies increase the need for additional prenatal care by competent specialists.
Factors discouraging medical students from midwifery include the cost of liability insurance and the risk of being sued. Although OBGYNs are some of the most passionate doctors you will find, they get sued more than almost any other specialty. In fact, 79 percent of OBGYNs report being named in a court case, and they pay the second-highest insurance premiums.
New York already has one of the toughest liability environments in the country. The Empire State leads the nation in lawsuits against healthcare professionals and consistently hovers at or near the top of the list of states for total medical liability payouts and payouts per capita.
Instead of working with the medical profession to even out the liability climate, the state legislature passed a measure that encourages litigation and encourages larger settlements – with plaintiffs’ attorneys collecting 33 percent of each verdict and reaping the benefits of the new law and the tragedies of their clients .
While well-intentioned, the perpetual bill — which boosts damages in wrongful death lawsuits — will exacerbate the liability crisis and allow for near-unlimited payouts. An actuarial analysis finds that annual medical liability premiums are expected to increase by 40-45 percent. In some parts of New York, this means an additional $60,000 per year for OBGYNs. That is enough to discourage someone from entering the field or practicing midwifery in this condition.
It is disheartening that at a time when we urgently need to support robust access to reproductive care, lawmakers are pushing legislation that could push obstetricians and gynecologists to practice elsewhere.
To ensure access to medical care for all New Yorkers, Hochul should veto the measure and urge lawmakers to craft a more thoughtful and balanced law that compensates victims of reckless acts but deters opportunistic litigators — and an increase in the This avoids burden for doctors and hospitals.
dr Adele El-Kareh is a Board-Certified OBGYN, Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine, and President of the Dutchess County Medical Society.