Delegates at the Ontario Medical Association’s annual meeting discussed the problem of declining interest among doctors for delivering babies. The number of family doctors willing to deliver babies is steadily declining in Canada, a trend worrisome to the medical profession and the public alike.
According to the Toronto Star (May 27) a report by the prenatal committee, chaired by Dr. John Milligan of Woman’s College Hospital says the figures indicated that “fewer GPs (general practitioners) see normal obstetrics as an integral part of family practice. Some give up deliveries at off hours, others give up deliveries completely.”
The hospital privilege committee has identified several reasons for the trend, including inadequate training in obstetrics for young general practitioners and the disruption that deliveries can create in a doctor’s practice and personal life.
Although neither committee has identified several reasons for the trend, including inadequate training in obstetrics for young general practitioners and the disruption that deliveries can create in a doctor’s practice and personal life.
Although neither committee considers it the prime explanation, another reason general practitioners shy away from obstetrical care is the cost of malpractice insurance. That cost keeps rising as a result of large settlements awarded by the courts in cases where a child is born damaged or handicapped.
Dr. James Hilton, president of the Canadian Medical Protective Association, said last fall that settlements in all kinds of cases average $ 37000 with the largest settlements going to parents of “damaged” babies. Some settlements have brought awards of more than $ 1 million. “The courts seem to be adopting the principle of liability without fault and they make extraordinary attempts to share the financial burden among as many parties as possible,” the prenatal committee report says.
Dr. Milligan gave as a related reason the attitude of parents who have only one or two children. “They expect these one or two children to be perfect, almost to the point where families seem to feel this outcome can b guaranteed.” But that is not ”Mother Nature’s Way,” he said. “She overproduces to make up for the loss.” Nevertheless parents blame the doctor, not nature, and they sue.