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Birth injury fund would let bad doctors off the hook [Letter]

Laws and LegislationFinance

A recent article reported that Maryland is considering legislation to establish a state fund to compensate babies born with brain injuries, similar to Virginia's law ("Maryland bill would create birth injury fund," Feb. 10). This would be a mistake.

Virginia's program has been in place for over two decades, and so far no state has ever replicated it — for good reason. The program has been a failure on every level. It has been in fiscal crisis for years. To save money, there have been drastic reductions in benefits for these catastrophically-injured children.

Moreover, because families are prevented from filing court cases, negligent doctors are never asked to explain what happened. Indeed, one of the worst aspects of Virginia's program is that it fails to hold accountable even the worst practitioners and allows them to continue practicing, making Virginia an attractive safe harbor for bad doctors.

Taking compensation decisions out of courts subjects them to influence-peddling and future budgetary considerations that no lawmaker today can control. These problems are always resolved on the backs of more powerless victims. We hope Maryland firmly rejects this terrible idea.

Joanne Doroshow, New York, N.Y.

The writer is executive director of the Center for Justice & Democracy at New York Law School.

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