Med-Mal Crisis Hurting Doctor Recruitment in Ohio

June 30, 2004

Patients in southeastern and northeastern Ohio are feeling the impact of the medical malpractice crisis according to several doctors who testified before the Ohio Medical Malpractice Commission yesterday at the Ohio Department of Insurance (ODI). Recruitment and retention efforts at some independent and university hospitals in those regions are suffering, as new doctors leave Ohio for more favorable medical liability premiums in other states, ODI said in a statement.

Statistics cited in testimony before the commission showed that certain specialties, including obstetrician-gynecologists, have been hit particularly hard by the crisis. According to Dr. John A. Brose, dean of Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine, all five family physicians stopped delivering babies, one gynecologist left and two out of the three remaining surgeons in the Athens community in southeastern Ohio left since last year. Additionally, Brose testified that surgery for Medicaid patients is unavailable in the area for non-emergent care.

Dr. James Dougherty, head of the medical education department at Akron General Hospital, testified that his hospital and other Akron-area hospitals are not only finding it difficult to recruit new doctors to practice in northeast Ohio, but retaining resident physicians is increasingly a challenge. According to Dougherty, only 43 percent (27 percent for Akron General) of residents now stay in northeast Ohio to practice medicine where 63 percent stayed in the area in 2002.

The commission was created under Senate Bill 281 of the 124th General Assembly, the law that established caps on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases.

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