Opinion: System needs to separate frivolous medical malpractice cases from worthy

Steve Reznick M.D.
http://www.sun-sentinel.com

The March 11 commentary by Gary M. Cohen, “Insurance industry what’s hurting doctors,” on the Stone medical malpractice case, fails to mention that hospitals have had to pay for coverage of their emergency rooms because of the malpractice crisis in this state.

There is a shortage of key specialists, with neurosurgery being a prime example, because they are simply tired of defending, at their expense, frivolous suits. They do cover ERs where they are compensated for their services and receive medical malpractice coverage.

In Mr. Cohen’s particular case, the hospital involved may very well have not reached contractual agreement with medical doctors or other facilities for complete services at the time this tragic woman was brought by ambulance to that hospital ER. The underlying problem was based on a shortage of neurosurgeons because most choose to practice in states where their services are appreciated.

Medical malpractice has become a billion-dollar industry in Florida, with everyone from records clerks, insurance adjustors, nurses hired to read and review charts, mediators and their staffs, out-of-state doctors looking to supplement their income by reading charts and testifying, and plaintiffs’ attorneys many times more interested in the size of the injury as a barometer for potential windfall earnings rather than the facts and merits of the case, all contributing to an environment that drives physicians away from Florida.

As long as there is no mechanism to separate the worthy from frivolous cases, this state will continue to drive away the best and brightest from considering practicing.

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