Doctors Going South
Most of us are feeling the effects of the down spiraling economy. Â We see it every where, in the news, on the internet. Â More importantly, we feel it in our wallet. Â Have you ever stop and wonder about how those who are in the professional field of health care such as doctors, dentists are feeling? Â Many have had to leave their profession doing something else other than what they started out doing in the beginning.Â Â
We now face another litigation crisis that has made insurance premiums unaffordable or even unavailable for many doctors, through no fault of their own. Â This is making it more difficult for many Americans to find care and threatening access for many more. Â Nevada is facing unprecedented problems in assuring quick access to urgently needed care. Â The University of Nevada Medical Center closed its trauma center in Las Vegas for ten days last year. Â Its surgeons had quit because they could no longer afford malpractice insurance. Â Their premiums had increased sharply, some from $40,000 to $200,000. Â The trauma center was able to re-open only because some of the surgeons agreed to become county government employees for a limited time, which capped their liability for non-economic damages if they were sued.Â
Overall, more than 10% of all doctors in Las Vegas are expected to retire or relocate their practices by mid year. Â There was a female doctor, age 41 who closed her decade-old obstetrics and gynecology practice in Las Vegas because her insurance premium jumped from $40,000 to $150,000 a year. Â Other states are facing the same problem. Â A doctor in a small town in North Carolina decided to take early retirement when his premiums went through the roof from $7,500 to $38,000 per year. Â His partner, unable to afford the practice expenses by himself may now be forced to close the practice and work at a teaching hospital. Â
Many physicians in Ohio saw their malpractice premiums triple in 2001, and some are leaving their practice as a result. Â An Akron Urologist decided to retire. Â Had this Urologist continued to practice, he would have spent seven months of his yearly income to cover the $85,000 premium. In New Jersey, 65% of the hospitals report that physicians are leaving because of increased premiums Â (over 250% over the last three years).Â
Litigation system does not accurately judge whether an error was committed in the course of medical care, physicians adjust their behavior to avoid being sued. Â A recent survey of physicians revealed that one-third shied away from going into a particular specialty because they feared it would subject them to greater liability exposure.