Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Is there a connection?

There has been a great deal of ferment in the homebirth and "natural" childbirth communities recently about the possible closing of the North Shore Birth Center in Beverly, MA. A statement from the birth center explained:
As with other birth centers around the nation, North Shore Birth Center is experiencing a significant rise in the cost of malpractice insurance premiums. As a result, we are currently evaluating the services provided by North Shore Birth Center.
It is certainly possible that a general risk in the cost of malpractice insurance for all birth centers may be driving this decision. I wonder, though, if a recent neonatal death at the center, discussed on MDC, may be a factor. Malpractice insurance companies rate doctors and adjust premiums upward based on bad outcomes. If malpractice carriers rate birth centers in the same way, a neonatal death would lead them to raise the premiums to exorbitant levels.

If the recent neonatal death were a factor, it would explain the apparently precipitous decision and the inability of the birth center to continue despite public protest. If the protesters want the birth center to remain open in the face of high malpractice premiums, they ought to be raising money to pay the increased malpractice costs, not writing letters and parading around with signs. If there's no money to pay the premiums, protests will have absolutely no effect.

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