Sheetrit to propose state fund to compensate parents for children's birth defects

Sheetrit to propose stat

A private member's bill that would provide state compensation to parents whose babies were born defective will soon be tabled in the Knesset by Science and Technology Committee chairman and Kadima MK Meir Sheetrit, The Jerusalem Post has learned. The bill, if passed and successful after implementation, could gradually lead to a no-fault insurance system for all physicians and other medical personnel who cause harm by error or actual malpractice. Sheetrit said in an interview at the Knesset Wednesday that the model was similar to one that had functioned successfully in New Zealand for 36 years. He said he had investigated the subject and read a lot of material to find the best proposals to include in his bill. At present, he said, doctors send pregnant women through a long and costly battery of tests, many of them unnecessary, just to protect themselves from being sued. If there is any hint of a genetic problem, doctors often advise patients to have an abortion, even though the fetus may turn out to be absolutely normal, he added. If a tragedy does occur and the baby is born defective, only the wealthy have the money to hire lawyers to sue. In addition, haredi and Arab patients rarely undergo abortions even when the threat of a defective baby is real, and therefore do not get any compensation, said Sheetrit. Medical institutions with gynecologists, anesthesiologists and others whose patients are often at high risk pay enormous malpractice insurance premiums that they can't afford, he said. But if the bill passes, a state fund of tens of millions of shekels would be set up - with funding from the government, medical institutions and the health funds - to provide compensation to the families on a month-by-month basis, only as long as the child is disabled, the former government minister said. It would compensate for defects in babies born in public or private hospitals, he added. The new Israel Medical Association chairman, Dr. Leonid Eidelman, endorsed Sheetrit's proposal Wednesday, pledging to cooperate.