This presentation was followed by Dr. Richard Berkowitz, representing the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), who conducted a 45-minute lecture, mostly sweeping generalizations, about this group’s view of the “science” around obstetrical injuries, essentially dismissing Dr. Marcus’ extremely helpful presentation and denying for the most part that birth injuries are ever caused by negligence - arguments that they raise in litigation and lose, by the way. ACOG, it turns out, is among the most aggressive leaders in the medical lobbies’ push for liability limits, strongly advocating a nationwide $250,000 cap on the amount children who are catastrophically injured at birth can receive for a lifetime of pain, suffering, permanent disfigurement and disability. They think $250,000 is actually too high. (See more here.) They are also notorious for untruthful fear-mongering, telling women and families that they would be unable to get a doctor unless they agreed to support laws that limit their own legal rights should their child be negligently injured at birth. (Look at how dishonest they were in New York. Look how the same issue was fabricated in Texas.)
So let me ask you a simple question. If you wanted to reduce deaths, injuries, claims and lawsuits – not to mention costs –how would you do it? Implement proven safety measures such as those described by Dr. Marcus? Or provide immunity to doctors who have already injured a patient, but who have followed national liability standards written by ACOG?
Well, the Center for American Progress, which has recently gotten in hot water for the enormous amount of money they take from corporations, has chosen to recommend the later, at least in certain circumstances. After repeating a lot of false and debunked nonsense about “defensive medicine,” which I guess CAP needed to do to find any justification for this idea, they have decided to propose immunity for doctors who follow national “legal standards of care” written by ACOG and other specialty medical societies – i.e., ACOG's lobbying and political allies. CAP believes that it would be not only fair to patients, but a good idea for patients to have their cases judged by national liability standards written by inherently biased doctor groups (written, by the way, with the knowledge that they will exculpate their own physician members.)
Interestingly, a U.S. House bill, H.R.1473 (the Standard of Care Protection Act of 2013) sponsored by “tort reform” doctor-turned-Congressman-turned- Senate candidate Phil Gingery (R-GA) - normally not a great friend of ours - would require that “The development, recognition, or implementation of any guideline or other standard under any Federal health care provision shall not be construed to establish the standard of care or duty of care owed by a health care provider to a patient in any medical malpractice case.” I think he's right! (Must be that new “Big Brother/strange bedfellows” thing.)
If you’d like to give CAP a piece of your mind about this dumb idea, I am sure they’d love to hear from you.