Too many lawsuits push doctors away

http://www.baltimoresun.com

While several factors are responsible for the disturbing trend identified by the study by MedChi and the Maryland Hospital Association, liability reform must be part of the solution (“Rural Maryland faces shortage of doctors,” July 28).

Frivolous lawsuits and runaway jury awards threaten our entire health system, preventing medical students from choosing certain specialties because of liability costs and increasing costs for us all.

PricewaterhouseCoopers has estimated that 10 percent of every dollar spent on health care can be attributed to the costs of medical liability and defensive medicine.

Meaningful health care reform requires efforts to contain costs. Common-sense legal reform is a tested and proven method for making health care more accessible and affordable.

In Texas, liability reforms have helped attract the best physicians from around the country while states such as Maryland have seen those physicians flee. And Texas has one of the highest rates of retention of physicians, while Maryland has one of the lowest.

With a physician shortage nearing a crisis in many parts of the state, our leaders must act to attract and keep doctors.

Meaningful legal reform will go a long way toward achieving that goal and securing care for Maryland citizens.

Dr. Ron Elfenbein

Annapolis

The writer is a member of the board of Maryland Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse.

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