Victims Speak Out on Med-Mal Crisis at Las Vegas Rally

May 7, 2003

A crowd of supporters assembled near the University Medical Center in Las Vegas Tuesday at a rally and news conference in which victims of the escalating medical liability crisis nationwide joined Nevada doctors, seniors, and business leaders in calling on U.S. Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) to vote for meaningful lawsuit abuse reform legislation this year.

“I lost my doctor of 13 years last year when he was forced out of the state by unaffordable liability costs, and then I lost my subsequent doctor for the same reason just weeks before I was scheduled to undergo a full hysterectomy,” said Bonnie Seubert of Las Vegas to the gathering, which carried placards urging reform. “How many more doctors can this state afford to lose? As far as I am concerned, one is too many. We need reform now.”

Years of frivolous lawsuits by personal injury lawyers have reportedly resulted in skyrocketing medical liability costs, forcing doctors, hospitals and other health care providers across the country to reduce their services or stop practicing altogether. The resulting loss of health care access for patients has also reportedly had serious, far-reaching consequences.

Joining Seubert was Mary Rasar, whose father died in Las Vegas last year after Nevada’s only Level 1 trauma center was forced to close for 10 days due to a sharp hike in its medical liability costs. Rasar said her father would have survived the injuries he sustained in an auto accident had the center been open.

“This is a federal crisis, not just a Nevada crisis,” said Dr. Rudy Manthei, president of Keep Our Doctors in Nevada. “We’d all love to see reform come on a federal level, and Senator Reid has the ability to do something about that. The longer we wait, the more people like Bonnie and Mary and others speaking today will continue to lose access to quality medical care, and that is unacceptable in America today.”

Nevada is listed by the American Medical Association as one of the states most critically affected by the crisis. The Senate version of The HEALTH Act – which was passed by the House of Representatives earlier this year and contains provisions modeled after a California law that has been successful for 27 years in reforming that state’s liability system – is co-sponsored by U.S. Senator John Ensign (R-NV).

Reid’s support would reportedly help deflect efforts of Senate Democrats threatening to filibuster the legislation.

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