Malpractice Claims High Insurance Costs Force Doctors To Shut Their Doors



A growing number of​ doctors are limiting the​ medical services they provide,​ or​ leaving their practices altogether,​ for fear of​ malpractice lawsuits. That's because the​ increasingly large awards in​ malpractice cases are translating into unaffordable insurance premiums for many doctors and hospitals.

Even if​ doctors choose to​ stay in​ business,​ some are relocating to​ states with laws that provide better malpractice protection. For patients,​ this may mean not having access to​ the​ health care they need,​ particularly in​ high-risk pregnancy or​ brain injury cases.

"It didn't really matter if​ I did anything wrong or​ how good a​ doctor I was or​ how much time I spent with a​ patient or​ how much effort of​ myself I gave,​" says Cara Simmonds,​ M.D.,​ an​ obstetrician who ultimately stopped practicing medicine after a​ pair of​ baseless malpractice claims threatened to​ dramatically increase her insurance premiums. "It was all a​ game and it​ doesn't measure your worth."

In many cases,​ the​ lawsuit has nothing to​ do with a​ doctor's ability. Instead,​ the​ patient's family is​ looking for a​ way to​ cope with a​ tragedy.

Insurance Crisis

"The malpractice insurance crisis dates back to​ the​ early 1970s,​ when the​ cost of​ claims soared and commercial medical liability insurance companies tried to​ deal with the​ problem by raising doctors' premiums-sometimes doubling or​ even tripling them."

In 1974,​ thousands of​ physicians faced the​ dual dilemma of​ not only meeting the​ rising cost of​ rapidly increasing premiums,​ but also finding a​ company willing to​ sell them this swiftly disappearing insurance coverage. Doctors in​ many states took matters into their own hands,​ creating their own professional liability companies. Today,​ these doctor-owned and/or operated companies dominate the​ market,​ providing protection to​ more than 60 percent of​ all physicians in​ the​ United States,​ as​ well as​ dentists,​ hospitals and other health care providers.

There are many in​ the​ medical field who believe America needs Congress to​ pass national legislation that will keep doctors in​ delivery rooms and emergency rooms,​ not courtrooms.





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