A crisis in obstetrics – Publisher’s Page – medical malpractice lawsuits

A crisis in obstetrics – Publisher’s Page – medical malpractice lawsuits – Brief Article

Joe Weider

When Colleen Blau and her husband planned their move from Atlanta to Las Vegas earlier this year, she was six months pregnant. Blau looked forward to the move–until she began contacting OB-GYN offices in the area. “I called five and none of them were taking new patients,” she says. “I called my husband in tears.”

Blau’s experience is not uncommon. Nationwide, obstetricians are relocating, retiring or refusing new patients because of rising medical malpractice insurance premiums. In fact, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has identified nine states where medical liability insurance is becoming either unaffordable or unavailable: Florida, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington and West Virginia.

President Bush recently asked Congress to help protect access to medical care by enacting nationwide restrictions on medical malpractice lawsuits. Unable to wait for national relief, however, some states have passed or are developing emergency legislation to stem the exodus of doctors from their areas. In Nevada, for example, a new law restricts damages for pain and suffering to $350,000.

While many OB-GYNs in Nevada now accept new patients, the situation remains tenuous as doctors wait to see if the new legislation will withstand constitutional challenges, says Jeffrey A. Wrightson, M.D., an OB-GYN in Las Vegas. “Pregnant women should be prepared to write and vote in support of candidates who are going to help solve this problem long term,” he says.

For more information or to get involved, call the Health Care Liability Alliance at 202-293-4255 or visit www.hcla.org.

COPYRIGHT 2002 Weider Publications

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