Bay St. Louis Doctor Gives Up Deliveries, Blames Insurance Costs - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

12/22/04

Bay St. Louis Doctor Gives Up Deliveries, Blames Insurance Costs

Skyrocketing malpractice rates are forcing a Bay St. Louis doctor to give up part of the practice he loves. Dr. Keith Goodfellow delivered his last baby on Halloween. He says state lawmakers didn't deliver a strong enough tort reform bill this year to protect his obstetrics practice.

Dr. Keith Goodfellow has delivered more than a thousand babies in Hancock County. He took care of patient Rachel Brockman during eight months of her pregnancy, but couldn't deliver Rachel's baby last month because he didn't renew his obstetrics insurance coverage on November first.

"It was a very, very difficult decision, and it was something I lost a lot of sleep over, but I knew I could no longer go on doing this with malpractice rates the way they were going. I was very close to the break even rate. And if they continued to go up anymore, I would be losing money practicing obstetrics," Dr. Goodfellow said.

"I think it's so wrong that he can no longer practice something he loves, something that he paid a lot of money for, took a lot of time going to school," Brockman said.

Dr. Goodfellow says his obstetrics insurance coverage costs 20 times more than it did when he first opened his Bay St. Louis clinic ten years ago. He hopes next session lawmakers will do something to help make insurance coverage more affordable for the state's doctors.

"They could set up a medical malpractice review board, which I think Governor Barbour suggested, however, the legislators shot that down."

Goodfellow is also urging lawmakers to pass legislation that would penalize plaintiff attorneys who sue in frivolous malpractice suits.

In the meantime, Dr. Goodfellow will continue working as a gynecologist, caring for the non-pregnancy needs of patients like Rachel Brockman.

Brockman hopes to have another child in the near future. She says she hopes that when that day does arrive, Dr. Goodfellow will again be delivering babies.

by Toni Miles

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