BHB and Local Obstetricians Join Forces to Control Fees and Ensure a Local Obstetric Service

Bermuda Hospitals Board and local obstetricians announced today a solution to the spiralling malpractice insurance costs that will see four obstetricians employed by the BHB to deliver obstetric care from the 24th week of gestation onwards.

Obstetricians are medical specialists in labour and delivery. Previously in Bermuda, all obstetricians practiced privately and had their own individual insurance with a specialist overseas malpractice insurer. Last year, obstetricians announced that in light of the drastic increases in medical malpractice for their discipline, they were faced with either increasing the cost of deliveries to prohibitive levels or ceasing practicing obstetrics altogether. If fees were hiked to cover the insurance increases, there was a danger that deliveries would become unaffordable for some families in Bermuda. If obstetricians ceased practicing on-Island, Bermuda residents would be forced to go overseas for a basic delivery, or present to Emergency Department knowing there were no specialist obstetricians to assist. The Ministry of Health considered both options unacceptable and charged BHB and the local obstetricians to find a solution.

“Healthcare costs go up every year, but we are very cognisant of our duty to the community to minimise the impact as much as possible,” comments Dr Thomas, Chief of Staff. “We felt strongly that the local obstetric service had to be preserved for the wellbeing of families in Bermuda. We cannot have parents-to-be unable to afford exorbitant fee rises to ensure a safe birth, or even worse only having the option of going overseas. While the inclusion of the obstetric malpractice insurance in our group policy does increase our premiums, it is less than if the obstetricians were left on their own.”

Chief of Obstetrics, Dr Dale Wilmot agrees that this was a vital step in order to preserve a viable and affordable on-island service. “This solution has ensured that Bermuda will continue to have a stable, professional obstetric service on-island and that we can maintain Bermuda’s very strong record of safety for mothers and babies. It is important to note that people will not experience a change in how services are delivered by the obstetricians, the change will effectively be in the billing process.”

Dr Wilmot adds, “However, in the absence of this solution, obstetricians would have been forced to substantially increase their rates compared to the current fees charged. By joining BHB’s insurance, the fee rise required to cover the increased premium for the hospital will be more affordable and will offset any future spiralling costs. The fees are listed in the Hospital Fee Schedule that was made publicly available on 1 April 2009.”

The newly contracted obstetricians include Drs Robinson, Woods and Emery. They will maintain their private practices for gynaecology services only and pre-24th week obstetric care. Current and new clients are directed to contact their respective offices for appointment. Dr. Carla Ming Reese will be practicing out of Dr Dale Wilmot’s office and has commenced taking on new patients.

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