Specialty Physicians Laud Senate Leaders’ Commitment to Medical Liability Reform

June 9, 2005

America’s medical liability crisis reportedly continues to grow, putting patients in every state at serious risk of not being able to access a specialty physician.

In a Capitol Hill briefing Thursday, the Senate Republican Conference vowed to make reforming the terms of medical liability lawsuits a top and immediate priority.

“Physicians and their patients need relief from the out-of-control jury
awards and soaring medical insurance premiums that have plunged our healthcare system into crisis,” said Gordon Wheeler, chair of the Alliance of Specialty Medicine, a nonpartisan group representing more than 200,000 physicians from 13 specialty medical societies. “We are encouraged by today’s announcement and look forward to working with Senate leadership as they advance important
reforms. We urge Congress to pass comprehensive legislation that incorporates a $250,000 cap on noneconomic, pain and suffering damages, while still fully compensating the patient for all lost wages and medical care. Caps are the only proven way to stop this crisis.”

Research from the Alliance of Specialty Medicine shows that excessively high jury awards and the resulting skyrocketing liability insurance premiums are affecting the services that medical specialists are willing to provide patients:

* One in seven obstetricians has stopped delivering babies, leaving thousands of pregnant women searching for a doctor to deliver their
* 75 percent of neurosurgeons will no longer operate on children;
* 55 percent of orthopaedic surgeons now avoid certain high-risk procedures;
* 41 percent of urologists refer complex cases to other doctors.

“Many doctors who are skilled at performing highly complicated medical procedures, and whose patients may need the most skilled care, cannot afford the insurance that protects them from the constant risk of lawsuits and astronomical jury awards,” said Michael Mennuti, MD, president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists from Philadelphia. “Many of our best doctors have had no choice except to stop performing high-risk procedures entirely. American women and their babies deserve better. Our Senate leaders intend to take action, which I hope will
lead to a speedy and bipartisan outcome.”

Reportedly, national polls consistently find that at least three-quarters of Americans want Congress to pass liability reform legislation that includes a cap on noneconomic damages.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that if federal medical liability reform was enacted, the nation would save between $70-126 billion in health care costs per year.

Was this article valuable?

Here are more articles you may enjoy.