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Protect Patients Now

Volume 2, Issue 4 APRIL 2007 Newsletter


Special points of interest:

DMLR Spokesman Featured on Primelife Radio Show

DMLR spokesman Dr. Troy Tippett was recently featured on Pennsylvania’s Primelife radio program. In his interview with host Mark Daniels, Dr. Tippett discussed the crisis in our nation’s emergency rooms caused by medical lawsuit abuse. “It’s a silent storm in this country,” Dr. Tippett told his audience, and many patients “don’t really realize they may not have access to all the specialists they would like to have available. This is particularly true in some of the smaller communities, where there is just no availability of specialists such as neurosurgeons, trauma surgeons, orthopaedic surgeons, all of whom have had to cut back on their practice in certain situations because they just can’t afford the liability insurance.”

To listen to the full interview, click here.

Trouble in Paradise

A newly released report by the Palm Beach County Medical Society projects a shortfall of 356 doctors by 2011, with general surgeons, ob-gyns, thoracic surgeons and colorectal surgeons among the specialists that will be in short supply. Read full story here.

The culprit is well known: medical lawsuit abuse and out-of-control liability costs have made Palm Beach County a hostile environment for doctors and a dangerous one for patients. The result is often tragic, as Donna Casasnovas can attest. When her husband, Enrique, started vomiting blood in the middle of the night last December, he was rushed to the Palms West Hospital – only to find they had no gastroenterologist who could treat his internal bleeding. Nor did any other hospital in the county. Now Donna is a widow and her four children are without a father. See the full story of Donna’s ordeal here.

This kind of unnecessary tragedy is part of what has earned the region its designation as one of the nation’s leading “Judicial Hellholes,” by the American Tort Reform Association. Last month they unveiled a new billboard on I-595 announcing Palm Beach and Miami-Dade’s dubious hellhole designation for the third straight year. See ATRA’s news release here.

Women and Children First

Women and children are perhaps the hardest hit by medical lawsuit abuse. A new survey by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has found that lawsuit abuse continues to wreak havoc on women’s obstetrical care. According to the survey:

Seventy percent of ob-gyns have made changes to their practice because of the lack of available or affordable medical liability insurance;

Sixty-five percent have made changes because of the risk or fear of liability claims or litigation

One in twelve ob-gyns have stopped delivering babies because of the high cost of insurance or out of fear of being sued.

An incredible 89 percent of ob-gyns have had at least one liability claim filed against them, for an average of 2.6 claims per ob-gyn. Do the personal injury lawyers really contend that 9 out of 10 obstetricians in this country deserve to be sued?

Read the full ACOG survey results here.

14 Closed Maternity Wards and Counting…

In what is being touted a regional “baby delivery crisis,” no fewer than 14 Philadelphia area hospitals have been forced to shut down their maternity wards over the past decade due to medical lawsuit abuse. Patients and health care providers fear that Chestnut Hill, a hospital serving Northeast Philadelphia, one of the most populous areas of the city, may be the 15th to close its obstetrics unit. A local ABC television affiliate reports that another potential maternity ward closing is “causing worries in an area that many say is already facing a crisis…with fewer and fewer places left to deliver [babies].”

The patient access to care crisis continues to worsen in Pennsylvania, where liability insurance costs are among the nation’s highest, particularly for specialists such as ob-gyns. Chestnut Hill CEO Brooks Turkel notes, “it [costs] about 10 times more for the hospital to provide liability insurance for an obstetrician than a family practice doctor.” The dwindling availability of obstetrical care in Philadelphia, as well as other areas, is further evidence of the devastating effects of medical lawsuit abuse on the health care system. How many more of the eight Philadelphia hospitals still delivering babies will have to close their maternity wards before meaningful reform is passed?

Read the full report on the Philadelphia “obstetric crisis” here.

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