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October 19, 1984

The Effect of Federal Regulations Regarding Handicapped Newborns: A Case Report

JAMA. 1984;252(15):2031-2033. doi:10.1001/jama.1984.03350150031016

ON MARCH 7, 1983, federal regulations were promulgated that pertained to the hospital care of newborn infants with handicaps. They specified mandatory aspects of patient care, set up a hotline reporting mechanism for putative offenders, and suggested penalties for hospitals found not in compliance. The involvement of the federal government in medical practice in such a direct way was unprecedented, and it provoked considerable reaction from physicians, hospital organizations, and others.

At the present time, the legal validity of the regulations is being contested, and the status of their enforceability is unclear. However, for a period of approximately three weeks in the spring of 1983, the regulations were operative. During that time, conjoined twin infants were born in the referral region of our medical center and came under our care. Federal authorities investigated the care of the infants in our hospital. The course of treatment of the infants was affected