Florida is the only state with a Birth-Related Neurological Injury Compensation Association (NICA), a program that claims to “lower obstetrician’s medical malpractice costs while providing families of those who suffer the most severe birth injuries with monetary compensation and ‘medically necessary’ health care.” In reality, NICA prevents parents from suing doctors for medical malpractice when the birth of their child goes wrong, even if the doctor or medical staff made a terrible mistake during the birth. Source.
Parents of children who have neurological damage from birth-related injuries are provided $100,000 upfront, with the promise of a lifetime supply of health care from NICA. However, most of the health care received actually comes from Medicaid, a different program that is paid for by the state and taxpayers. When a child in the NICA program dies, the family is given an additional $10,000 for funeral costs.
While NICA states that they provide a lifetime of health care to the affected child, parents find that their requests are often denied. For example, a mother wanted to request a nurse to care for her child on the school bus. NICA responded that they “do not pay for nursing services at the school.” A father requested a blender to puree his son’s food for his feeding tube. NICA denied the request, providing the statement that they “need a medical reason why the child needs blenderized food rather than baby food which is already pureed and available.” When requesting a higher subsidy for their electric bill after a substantial increase due to their child’s medical equipment, NICA responded that “AC is wonderful and we all want it, but it is not medically necessary.”
Unfortunately, Florida has chosen to stand behind doctors, rather than the families suffering from medical malpractice that children are facing at birth. The NICA board is composed of:
- The Chief Operating Officer of The Doctor’s Company (Florida’s largest medical malpractice insurer),
- Two physicians,
- A hospital administrator, and
- The head of an insurance agency.
There are no parents on the board, as NICA claims that would show favoritism to the parent(s) sitting on the board.
NICA is preventing families from getting justice after their child suffers due to medical malpractice at birth. For this reason, many parents try to make the argument that their child’s birth injury does not qualify for NICA, as there are specific requirements to get aid from NICA. If your child has suffered from medical malpractice and you have questions about the applicability of NICA to your claim, it is important to seek legal help immediately. The personal injury attorneys at Beltz & Beltz will fight to get the justice you deserve for you and your baby.