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Maryland Task Force Could Create Birth Injury Fund and Reduce Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

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Two Maryland hospitals have been named as defendants in recent medical malpractice cases. Both lawsuits stem from birth injuries and could result in multi-million dollar awards for the plaintiffs. Medical malpractice cases have the highest average median damage awards of any personal injury cases, at $600,000, so why are those potential damage awards so high?

Injury Lawyer News reports that medical malpractice litigation can sometimes seem like a lottery, according to critics of the legal system — they say that some plaintiffs win high compensatory damages, and others none.

A task force in Maryland, which according to the Baltimore Sun has been an initiative for almost a year now, could create a state-supported fund for babies who suffer neurological injuries during birth.

The no-fault fund would provide funds to care for babies with injuries whether there was negligence on the part of medical personnel or not, while simultaneously driving down hospitals’ medical malpractice expenses.

“The fund means babies born with injuries get compensation even when there wasn’t negligence but the outcome was just bad,” said Dr. Andrew J. Satin, director of gynecology and obstetrics at Johns Hopkins Hospital and a task force member. “One reason people sue when doctors have done nothing wrong is because of the burden of caring for babies born with challenges.”

This sounds promising for families of children who suffer neurological injuries at birth — due to negligence or otherwise — but there are critics of the fund, who claim that it and the task force would allow medical practitioners to shirk responsibility for actual negligence.

“As I see it, any such fund would inevitably lead to a lack of meaningful accountability, which would lead to further negligence, and inevitably hurt the victims and their families with unfair and unjust compensation,” said Michael Bennett, a patient advocate.

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