Doctors in Fla., Miss. Protest Med-Mal Costs

January 28, 2003

Over 800 Florida doctors and a dozen in Mississippi protested rising costs of malpractice insurance by staying off the job.

According to Associated Press reports, doctors in the Palm Beach County area protested by attending a two-day conference on the problem instead of reporting to work. In Mississippi, surgeons took leaves of absence from four Gulf Coast hospitals—Memorial Hospital, Garden Park Medical Center, Gulf Coast Medical Center and Hancock Medical Center.

Palm Beach hospitals brought in additional emergency room staff and rescheduled elective surgeries in order to cope with the walkout. Mississippi’s Gulf Coast Medical kept a general surgeon on staff. The four Mississippi hospitals are keeping their emergency rooms open but are rescheduling elective surgeries.

In southern Mississippi, surgeons claimed they were forced to act because insurance companies have either dropped their coverage or raised premiums beyond what physicians in their region can afford.

Gulfport and Harrison counties earlier declared a state of emergency, clearing the way for ambulances to take patients to nearby hospitals in neighboring Louisiana or Alabama. The Hancock County Board of Supervisors was expected to make a similar declaration.

Surgeons walked off the job in West Virginia earlier this month, and doctors in New Jersey plan a similar protest in February.

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