Archives: October 2011

Liability premiums hold steady, but state disparities linger

For the sixth consecutive year, medical liability insurance premiums have eased across the country, with 55% of rates in 2011 holding steady. While most rates remained stable, data from the annual Medical Liability Monitor survey show 30% of premiums dropped — twice as many as in 2010. An additional 15% of premiums rose, about the same as last year.   "Right now it's a good time to be a doctor," said Michael Matray, Monitor editor. "If your cost of doing business is shrinking, obviously you have more room for profitability. But eventually costs have to go back up, if history is any indicator."   Despite a flat market, stark differences among premiums continue to linger, depending on where a doctor practices.   Florida retained its spot as having the highest premiums for physicians, according to Monitor data. Internists in Dade County paid $47,731 in 2011, and general surgeons paid $190,926. Obstetrician-gynecologists in Miami and Dade counties paid $201,808.   Minnesota remained on the low end of the premium spectrum. Internists in the state paid $3,375, and general surgeons and ob-gyns paid $11,306 and $16,449, respectively.   It's no surprise Florida continues to top the states in premiums, said Jeffery Scott,…

Read More

Better Care in Texas Thanks to Tort Reform

Thanks to the passage of lawsuit reforms, medical care is now more readily available in many Texas communities. For many patients, this change has been life-altering; for some, life-saving. George Rodriguez walks today thanks to tort reform. Newly established Corpus Christi neurosurgeon Matthew Alexander urgently operated on Rodriguez’ spinal abscess, relieving the pressure on his spinal cord, and sparing him life in a wheel chair. Without the state’s lawsuit reforms, Dr. Alexander wouldn’t have relocated to Texas and Mr. Rodriguez would have been deprived access to emergency neurosurgery in Corpus Christi.   Cancer survivor Ruby Collins credits newly minted Brownwood urologist Daniel Alstatt with saving her life. Dr. Alstatt says he wouldn’t have moved there, were it not for tort reform.   Andrya Burciaga of McAllen, a complex patient with diabetes and hypertension, is a first-time mother, thanks in part to the expertise of obstetrician/fertility specialist Dr. Javier Cardenas. Again, if not for the passage of the reforms, Dr. Cardenas says he absolutely would not have returned to his hometown to practice medicine nor taken problem pregnancies such as Ms. Burciaga’s.   Because of reforms, more patients across Texas are getting the care they need, when they need it.  …

Read More

Fear of lawsuits, little time with patients lead to more aggressive care

Nearly half of primary care physicians say patients receive too much medical care. In a study of 627 such physicians, 42% said patients in their practice get too much treatment, and 6% said patients receive too little care. Fifty-two percent of doctors said the amount of care was just right, according to the study published Sept. 26 in Archives of Internal Medicine. Three in four doctors listed medical liability concerns as the primary reason they practice more aggressive medicine. Forty-percent said inadequate time with patients is a factor in practicing more aggressively. About one in four physicians practices medicine more aggressively by ordering more tests and making more referrals than they would like to do. The results are not surprising, said internist Calvin Chou, MD, a professor in the Dept. of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, Veterans Affairs Medical Center. He wrote an editorial that accompanied the study. “I run into problems myself when a patient is very demanding of a particular test that I don’t think is particularly warranted,” Dr. Chou said. “I think I’m pretty good at discussing it with them, but I know that I’m not perfect. There are times when it’s easier to…

Read More

October 2011 Newsletter

Protect Patients Now Volume 6, Issue 10 OCTOBER 2011 Newsletter E-Newsletter Special points of interest: HCLA Issues Rapid Response in Support of Liability Reform Physicians Play Defense Against Personal Injury Lawyers Signs of Success in Mississippi Texas Patients Reaping the Rewards After Reform HCLA Issues Rapid Response in Support of Liability Reform The HCLA and other physician organizations have petitioned members of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to include medical liability reforms in their final report to Congress – a notion that was opposed this month on the editorial page of the New York Times. The editorial stated that it was “not the job” of the supercommittee to include medical liability reforms in its deficit reduction report – to which the HCLA disagreed in a response to the editor: “In response to your October 6 editorial, the Health Coalition on Liability and Access respectfully disagrees and believes it is the job of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to consider all avenues of cost savings in their recommendations to Congress, including medical liability reform. “The “supercommittee” has a crucial opportunity to do something that preserves patient access to quality care and achieves billions of dollars in savings ($62.4…

Read More