I recently spent two days at Mt. Auburn Hospital in Cambridge. We got a healthy baby out of the deal so I am not complaining about their operation from a consumer perspective. However, I am thinking that there is an opportunity for litigators there.
Kleiner Perkins has a workforce that is 30-percent female (20 percent of partners are women) and that made them a target for legal buccaneer Ellen Pao and as well as guilty in the eyes of the New York Times, both before and after a five-week trial. What would the jury have made of an operation where 100 percent of the employees (that we saw, over a 53-hour period) were of a single gender?
Health care jobs are the best in the U.S. The chart linked from “Software engineering = meaningless job?” shows that being in health care offers the best combination of pay and meaning. If these jobs don’t pay as well as collecting child support in Massachusetts (see Kosow v. Shuman in this chapter, for example), they certainly pay more than the median Massachusetts hourly wage of $21.48 (BLS May 2014). There is great protection from foreign competition and virtually unlimited demand for services, especially since the government made it illegal not to purchase health insurance.
How can it not be a lucrative field for litigators when the maternity and labor/delivery departments were both 100-percent staffed by women? Let the defense argue that men don’t want to experience the joy of working around newborns and helping women realize their dreams of motherhood. The plaintiffs will argue that these departments created a hostile environment for men.
Readers: If Ellen Pao had what the New York Times thought was a great lawsuit, why isn’t there a truly superb lawsuit here?
[Sidenote 1: The value of healthcare IT was on display throughout the delivery process. Mt. Auburn has achieved all of the Obama Administration’s “meaningful use” hurdles. This was our second baby to be monitored through pregnancy by the midwives at this hospital. This was our second baby where a test from this group had informed us that we would be having a boy. Yet we were asked three times by three different people, each typing at a computer, whether we knew the sex of the baby and, if so, what it was. (Separately, at what age can gender dysphoria begin? If very young, is it medically meaningful to ask “Are you having a boy or a girl?”) While sharp labor pains tortured the mother-to-be, we were asked about mailing addresses, health insurance data, etc. (the same information collected exactly two days earlier at a checkup) While suffering labor pains severe enough to merit an epidural, the mom was asked to sign a consent form for an epidural. (Why wasn’t it signed, scanned, and in the computer weeks before?) Having been given a due date by this group within this hospital, we were asked what the expected due date was.]
[Sidenote 2: At a “meet the midwives” event and some similar gatherings of expectant mothers, all were talking about their own to-be-born babies as fully human individuals, e.g., when looking at a 2-month ultrasound. They would refer to the fetus by name in some cases, talk about the child kicking, etc. Yet, given that the hospital is in Cambridge, it is same to assume that most are supporters of the Massachusetts law permitting on-demand abortion of babies at any time through 24 weeks of pregnancy (Wikipedia says a fetus may be viable outside the womb at 23 weeks).]
[Sidenote 3: New mothers are provided with a stack of pamphlets regarding welfare programs for which she would be either newly eligible or eligible at a higher level of benefits. In theory, Cambridge provides free housing for all non-working adults, but there is a waiting list and a parent with a young child gets higher priority. Anyone with a low income is eligible for food stamps, but “Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)” is available in addition for women and young children, according to the federal site. Obamacare requires insurance companies to pay for a breast milk pump with each baby, so the mother of four children will eventually end up with a stack of Medelas in the closet.]