Florida officials have a plan that protects physicians and children born with serious injuries. The plan is called the Florida Birth-Related Neurological Injury Compensation Plan or NICA. Under NICA, children who sustain a brain or spinal cord injury, during labor and delivery, can claim benefits. However, the injury must have been caused by mechanical error or oxygen deprivation. Parents fle a claim and a Administrative Law Judge decides whether the child is accepted in the plan.
Parents often hire an attorney to apply for NICA coverage. The application process includes gathering all medical records for the mother and child. Once accepted, A Child injured during birth in Weston is covered for life. In return, the parents agree not to file a malpractice suit. The child must been certain other criteria including:
- being born in a hospital
- weigh at least 2500 grams at birth
- must have a participating physician
NICA requires all physicians and hospitals to inform obstetrical patients about the plan. In addition, there is a list of participating physicians on the internet. Participating physicians reduce their exposure to malpractice suits and help children born with serious medical conditions. Covered physicians pay an annual fee of $5,000 and provide their patients with NICA brochures in order to participate. NICA is a win-win situation for physicians. They cover themselves and make sure injured children receive the best care. Physicians who do not practice obstetrics or choose not to participate must pay $250 annually into the plan. Further, hospitals pay $50 per live birth into the plan. NICA provides the following benefits for children:
- expenses for medical and hospital care
- family residential or custodial care
- professional residential and custodial care and service
- special equipment and facilities
- related travel expenses
Exceptions include expenses paid by health insurance or another government source. Families may also be eligible for a one-time cash award of less than $100,000. In addition, families are eligible for a $10,000 death benefit for the child. Obstetricians and hospitals, in other states, are opting not to deliver babies due to the risk of malpractice litigation and rising insurance costs. Florida’s plan aims to eliminate this problem.