Increased cost of Doctors MalPract. Ins ?

  1. I heard on the news the other day a trauma program was shut down overnight because they lost their trauma surgeons ? He said he got out of trauma because the cost of his malpract. ins. was unreasonable. Anyone hear of this ? Any thoughts?

    They showed us one figure of one doctors malpract ins. more than quadrupled? Can that be real?

    What are we going to do if the doctors decide to up and quit ? Is it possible for them to band together and stike?
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  2. 10 Comments

  3. by   colleen10
    Hi Nittlebug,

    I live in Pittsburgh, PA and we are having many problems with Dr.'s Malpractice Insurance being so high - we are loosing many good doctors to other parts of the country and many young people are not going into medicine due the increase in insurance.

    I haven't been following this story very closely, but our state government is currently trying to devise ways to lower the cost of insurance. It seems that our representatives recognize that we are loosing many doctors from our area and that patients are at risk because they cannot readily see a doctor when one is needed. I believe that one of the hardest hit areas of medicine is women's health - OB / GYN's. If you make an appointment with a new doctor you may have to wait many months before you can get in to see them. And that's not even for just a yearly check up, that's if you are not feeling well / or believe you may have something wrong with you.

    I will keep my eyes posted in our local newspaper for any articles regarding this. I have also heard from news stories that some practices in Pennsylvania have closed their doors because of high Mal. Prac. Insur. but they were scheduled closings. I have not heard of any practices or floors suddenly closing because the doctors just up and left.

    Good Post, I am interested in how things stand in other parts of the country.
  4. by   Jolie
    The article Nittlebug refers to was on the ABC Nightly News Tuesday. It focused on the only Trauma Center in Las Vegas where 2 surgeons recently resigned due to malpractice premiums that had ballooned to nearly $400,000/year, if I heard correctly.

    The Trauma Center will now be staffed with surgeons only 12 hours/day, so if you happen to be unfortunate enough to have a car accident or serious injury at the wrong time, God help you!

    The situation in Pennsylvania is also reaching a crisis point, as many physicians can no longer afford the payments they must make to a State fund which is used to pay catastrophic malpractice claims. If they fail to make this payment, they are not allowed to practice in the State of PA, however, their payments have skyrocketed over the last 5 years or so. The high-risk specialties such as OB, anesthesia and surgery are the hardest hit, but even internists and family practice docs are beginning to be affected.


    How sad! I would never question a legitimate malpractice case or begrudge an injured patient the money needed to care for themselves for the rest of their lives, but this is where money-hungry lawyers and patients have brought us. I truly believe that malpractice cases should be heard by a jury of medical professionals and not the general public, which is too easily swayed by emotion, and not the facts of the case.
  5. by   dawngloves
    I thought this was only a problem in PA. Three area trauma centers had to scramble over the holidays when their surgeons couldn't afford to renew their insurance.
    Last year my OB informed me in the middle of my pregnancy, that she could not deliver babies anymore because she could not afford the insurance.
    Very scary! Let's cap the awards. Or at least what the lawyers get. I am so sick of the commercials, "Get compensated for this, get money for that. " Like it's the lottery for pete's sake!
  6. by   colleen10
    Hi everyone,

    I found at least one newspaper article from the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. It's an editorial but still has some good facts in it so that you can get an understanding of how things are here in Western PA.

    http://www.post-gazette.com/forum/20020204edmal04p1.asp
  7. by   CEN35
    our er docs, belong to a group. as with most working in emergency medicine, you cannot make it alone. this group operates under contract with the hospitals they cover. to my knowledge they cover many hospitals. we have been increasingly busy, they increased coverage.....we had 56 hours a day of er doc coverage.
    then the new malpractice premiums came... they had to cut back on coverage, because it was the only way they could come up with the money for premiums.
    our neuro surgeons group, who are just awesome! their premiums went way up also. to my understanding, most malpractice premiums have increased by 60%!
    imagine paying $150,000 a year? then.........the next years premium comes, and it's for $240,000 a year!
    i also know that our area has some of the highest numbers of malpractice cases, which doesn't help. the er docs here are also limited, because there are only two malpractice companies that offer emergency medicine coverage. imagine what would have happened, if the goverment let chrysler corporation die when they were at the bottom of the barrel? there would have been a monopoly!! well the last remaining malpractice company is going to have a field day! i wonder what the goverment will do then to make things right?

    just my two cents......

    me
  8. by   CEN35
    i know there will be a lot of opposition to what i say here. everybody has their point of view, and we're allowed because this is the usa right?

    i think somehow, the goverment really needs to step in on malpractice suites.

    i think for starters......it should be made known in advance, the looser of the case must pay all fees incurred during the legal process for both sides.
    for those of you that don't know it, that is not the way it works. i read about this, and discussed it with an attorney once. i cannot remember the details. the thing is anyone can go and take whoever, whenever to court without incurring a penalty or having to pay for their share.

    the cost of preparing and going to court is so expensive, companies settle even if they know they will win. they know the plaintif in most cases, don't have the cash to pay for the expenses even if the defendant does win. (i.e. plaintif sues for $500,000. cost to prepare and go to trial and the whole 9 yards....$400,000-$600,000 if the defendent will win! ) so why bother? they settle out of court! if they know they will loose...they try to settle out of court......because it's cheaper, and they still have to fork out a lot of money. it's a no win situation for the insurance company.

    another thing........ and think about this carefully. in the 1800's (think about the time period of the show dr. quinn who we all know incidentally could not have always saved everybody), if a doctor saved somebody they were a hero, they were the talk of the town. if the person died, the attitude was, "we know you did your best...but i guess it was his time".
    the thought proccess now, is the doctor should save everybody. let's face it.....we have all seen numbers of hopeless cases and the family is totally non-realistic.

    there was an 86 yo female that showed up into an er. while i don't remember the specifics right now, i will tell you what i remember to make a point.
    she was on coumadin, and she had a complaint of a headache i think. she showed up at the er, and the er doc examined her, did a head ct which was negative. he gave her something for the pain, and it went away. he then consulted the cardiologist who prescribed the coumadin. he felt she could be discharged.
    well within the next two or three days, she was found by the family. it was determined she died d/t either a sub-dural or sub-arachanoid bleed (i can't remember which?)
    the award to the family was $24,000,000. i suppose i should also mention, this lady did have a significant history with many problems. somehow it seems not so right.....but thats just my opinion.
    there need to be alot of changes...or there will be no physicians left.

    me
  9. by   Debstr
    I work in a hospital in Las Vegas and we are losing our doctors so fast it's scary. Just lost two out of three neurologists! A couple of doctors' malpractice insurance went over $800,000 a year!

    It was UMC that was going to have to close their Trauma Center on Tuesday, but there's a temporary fix. They have been allowed to hire part time docs to cover trauma and their insurance will be paid for by the hospital while working traumas.

    What are we gonna do when our OBs can no longer afford to stay?

    We are in crisis mode out here.

    Deb
  10. by   RN-PA
    The malpractice insurance paid by our hospital has also risen $3 million this fiscal year and we will take a loss. All hospitals and doctors in our area are in the same boat. To quote an article that appeared in the newspaper today:

    "The entire medical malpractice debate has come to a head in recent months as doctors have stated they can no longer afford to pay for malpractice insurance and will have to move to other states where their rates are less. Hospital spokesmen say they will have to cut essential services, including trauma centers and emergency rooms, if they lose the neurosurgeons and orthopedic surgeons who have been hit hardest by the increasing rates."

    One of the CEO's of a local hospital recently traveled to London(!) to attempt to acquire insurance and he is quoted:

    "They (a London insurance co.) told us what they consider to be the three least attractive markets in the world for professional liability insurance: Southeastern Pennsylvania is number one (), followed by Australia and Czechoslovakia."

    "The reasons are subject to debate.
    Hospital administrators and doctors say it is because of an endless string of frivolous lawsuits, ridiculously high jury awards-- especially in Philadelphia-- and the lack of statewide tort reform.

    "The lawyers answer right back that it's because doctors make too many mistakes, and the insurance industry is cyclical and is in the midst of a downturn.

    'And the market in Pennsylvania has fallen apart due to corruption, mismanagement and breach of fiduciary duty,' said Cliff Reiders, president of the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association."

    At our hospital, we have already lost a general surgeon and will be losing a pulmonary M.D. in the next few months to other states. I'm sure there are others who have left that I'm unaware of. I also believe in people being compensated for mistakes made by incompetent docs, but there is such a "Win-the-Lottery" mentality with some patients and their lawyers that until true tort reform is enacted, a crisis is looming and has actually, already begun.
  11. by   Q.
    Originally posted by Jolie
    The high-risk specialties such as OB, anesthesia and surgery are the hardest hit, but even internists and family practice docs are beginning to be affected.


    How sad! I would never question a legitimate malpractice case or begrudge an injured patient the money needed to care for themselves for the rest of their lives, but this is where money-hungry lawyers and patients have brought us. I truly believe that malpractice cases should be heard by a jury of medical professionals and not the general public, which is too easily swayed by emotion, and not the facts of the case.
    I could not agree with these two points more. I work OB, and our docs just got slapped with a 65% increase in premiums this year. Also, the statute of limitations for OB cases is 25 years! Very scary indeed.
  12. by   oramar
    Persoanlly I think they ought to ban those "Sue your doctor, sue you nurse, sue you neighbors and your mama too" ads on the TV. One lawyer was assuring people it is indeed OK to sue family. You're suing their insurance not the family member he was saying. I thought to myself that there might be some hard feeling anyway.

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