Laborists, and how rising malpractice premiums and the physician payment system are fueling the rise of hospital-only obstetricians

Meet the obstetric version of hospitalists, known as laborists.

Faced with rising malpractice premiums, and the increasing financial pressure to see more patients in the office, more obstetrician/gynecologists are ceasing to deliver babies. In fact, according to Massachusetts’ largest malpractice carrier, more than half of the OB/GYN’s they cover have dropped obstetrics.

It’s no wonder, as “an obstetrician-gynecologist in Massachusetts generally pays between $75,000 and $100,000 a year for malpractice insurance; that amount drops to between $30,000 and $50,000 when a doctor gives up obstetrics and sees patients only for gynecological problems.”

Some mothers may not like meeting the doctor who will be delivering their baby for the first time at the hospital. However, like other patients who are being managed by hospitalists, they increasingly have no choice, and can only blame the skyrocketing cost of malpractice and the dysfunctional physician payment system for the proliferation of hospital-based doctors.

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