Pennsylvania obstetrics

Consider having your baby somewhere else: hit hard by the state’s malpractice crisis, the “five-county Philadelphia region [lost] 25 percent of its staffed OB beds between 1993 and 2003, according to Delaware Valley Healthcare Council President Andrew Wigglesworth. Within the past 18 to 24 months, he says, the region lost 10 hospital OB departments, including those at MCP, Methodist, Nazareth, Warminster, Mercy Fitzgerald, Episcopal and Elkins Park; while OB services were also lost from hospital closures including City Line, Sacred Heart in Norristown and Community Hospital in Chester.

“Liability issues have put extraordinary pressure on OB programs in southeastern Pa., while well over 50 percent of practicing obstetricians in the region, perhaps closer to 75 percent, have become employees whose liability coverage is paid for by hospitals, says Wigglesworth, who adds that the trend toward employed OB status in southeastern Pa. has accelerated over the past three and a half years. ‘It is clear that, without the intervention of hospitals to employ and cover obstetricians in the region, we would have an extraordinary crisis, in terms of availability of OB services,’ he says…

“Wigglesworth [notes] that liability costs alone have approached two-thirds of the reimbursement level. …’Surviving’ OB programs in the region are mostly represented by teaching hospitals, including Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP), Pennsylvania Hospital, Einstein, Hahnemann, Jefferson and Temple.” (Christopher Guadagnino, “Obstetrician scarcity in Pennsylvania”, Physicians News Digest, May)(via Donna Rovito) (& letter to the editor Aug. 16).

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