Letter to the Editor: Bringing Down Maternal Death Rates

New York Times
Sunday, October 28, 2007

To the Editor:
In ''Deadly Deliveries'' (Op-Ed, Oct. 14), Paul Ogburn Jr. says that one response to the increase in maternal mortality in New York should be ''to encourage obstetricians to continue practicing in New York.''
New York State's pool of doctors, including specialties like obstetrics and gynecology, has always been among the highest in the nation per capita. But as The New York Times reported in 2004, ''Today's medical residents, half of them women, are choosing specialties with what experts call a 'controllable lifestyle.' '' That means avoiding specialties, like surgery or obstetrics, that require doctors be on call 24 hours a day.
Another problem is underserved communities, both rural and inner city. This is a national issue long recognized by the American Medical Association. It could be solved if the government stepped up to provide incentives to encourage careers and opportunities in these areas.
One wrong solution is to take away the legal rights of women and children who are the victims of obstetrical malpractice, as medical and insurance lobbies advocate. Better regulation and oversight are the ways not only to bring down mortality rates, but also to reduce the intolerable amount of malpractice in New York.
Joanne Doroshow
Executive Director, Center for Justice and Democracy
Lower Manhattan

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