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February 8, 2006

Cerebral Palsy Litigation—Reply

JAMA. 2006;295(6):625-626. doi:10.1001/jama.295.6.626-a

In Reply: We thank Dr Bishop for bringing to the discussion on obstetric malpractice litigation the costs of care for persons with cerebral palsy. These dauntingly high costs may indeed motivate parents to initiate litigation, whether or not there is causal evidence about the child's disability. However, seeking to recover costs of care through litigation is an extraordinarily inefficient process, both slow and unpredictable. Even when an award is made, the majority of money may go to “administrative costs” for lawyers, the court, and witnesses, rather than to the needy child and family. In addition, trying to provide for disabled children by lawsuits against clinicians who cannot prevent cerebral palsy is profoundly unfair and makes those caregivers want to stop delivering babies.