Editorial for March 17: Obstetricians on a slippery slope

Imagine a woman who believes she’s pregnant going to her trusted gynaecologist for him to confirm her suspicion, only to be told that he can’t be the one who delivers her baby.

It’s a real possibility because of increasing malpractice insurance rates for the six private OB-GYNs in the Cayman Islands.

If any of those doctors decides to stop the obstetrics portion of their work, they will put their practice at risk and the workload on remaining obstetricians will increase, putting pregnant women at greater risk.
Just six years ago the OB-GYNs were paying $14,000 a year for insurance. As of 1 March, that figure has skyrocketed to $162,360 a year.

Naturally OB-GYNs have had to increase their fees to help cover the insurance costs, but there will be a breaking point.

We appreciate the efforts of the doctors’ insurers to keep rates down while our government was to debate and approve legislation that would limit medical and economic damages.

Unfortunately, insurers felt they had to act on a fee increase because Government has failed to pass the legislation, something they have been aware of since a subcommittee report was given to them in 2008. The legislation, which caps claims at $500,000, is to go before lawmakers at its next sitting, which starts today.

Many would argue that a $500,000 cap isn’t enough. And we agree, that for some medical malpractice cases it won’t be.

Someone who commented at caycompass.com on the obstetrician article in the Caymanian Compass suggested the cap be put at $1 million and that caps be set for each type of medical malpractice.

Those who would argue against a cap say that setting caps on medical malpractice would let ne’er-do-well medical practices and their doctors off the hook and patients wouldn’t be adequately compensated for pain and suffering.

It’s in Government’s hands to come up with an answer to this worrisome issue, to ensure we have enough OB-GYNs and patients are treated fairly when they have been wronged.