Philadelphia-Area Doctors to Make Second Trip to Harrisburg This Year To Voice Concerns About Medical Liability System Abuse

Abuse Creating Patient Access Problems as Malpractice Premiums Skyrocket,

Says Pennsylvania Medical Society



Apr 12, 2001, 01:00 ET from Pennsylvania Medical Society

    HARRISBURG, Pa., April 12 /PRNewswire/ -- Doctors in southeastern
 Pennsylvania say that the negative impact of skyrocketing malpractice premiums
 is so serious that on April 24, they'll make a second trip to the state
 Capitol this year to alert state senators and representatives that patient
 care is suffering as a result.
     One month earlier, five busloads of doctors from Philadelphia and
 surrounding communities made the trek into Harrisburg for identical reasons.
     According to the Pennsylvania Medical Society, major liability insurance
 carriers in Pennsylvania implemented overall rate increases ranging from 21 to
 more than 60 percent.  In addition, a segment of doctors saw significant
 increases higher than 75 percent.
     A survey of more than 400 doctors conducted by the Pennsylvania Medical
 Society indicates that the sudden increase in premiums is deteriorating
 patient care.  Limited access may be occurring as 72 percent of those surveyed
 say they have deferred the purchase of new equipment or hiring of new staff.
 In addition, the Society says that Pennsylvania has serious problems
 recruiting new doctors into the commonwealth.
     Furthermore, a review of CAT Fund data conducted by the Pennsylvania
 Medical Society suggests that the state has lost nearly 11 percent of its
 doctors since 1997.
     "Specialists are deciding not to take on high-risk cases out of fear of
 facing a meritless lawsuit, and networks are losing doctors as a result," said
 Carol E. Rose, MD, president of the Pennsylvania Medical Society.  "If we
 allow this problem to grow like an unchecked tumor, patients will eventually
 face serious access problems when they need care the most as more doctors
 decide to retire early, move out of the state, or stop high-risk procedures."
     In addition to a statewide loss of physicians, Dr. Rose points out that
 Philadelphia lost 10.2 percent of its doctors since 1999, while Delaware
 County has lost 17 percent since 1997.  Even worse, Chester County lost
 33 percent of its physicians since 1997, while Montgomery County's physician
 population decreased 25 percent during the same time period.
     Doctors blame an out-of-control legal system and a litigious environment
 as the cause for skyrocketing premiums leading to patient access problems.
 Data from the Physician Insurers Association of America reveals that in 1999
 less than 30 percent of all malpractice claims result in a financial payment
 to the plaintiff, suggesting a high level of meritless claims.  In addition,
 according to data from the National Health Care Practitioner Data Bank,
 Pennsylvania is the second worst state in the country for the total medical
 malpractice payments for physicians.  Pennsylvania's total payments represent
 nearly 10 percent of the national total.
     The Pennsylvania Medical Society says that while many Philadelphia area
 doctors may be unavailable to provide care on April 24 as a result of
 legislative meetings in Harrisburg, emergency care shouldn't be hampered on
 that day.
     Doctors are scheduled to begin arriving at the State Capitol's East
 Entrance around 9 a.m. on April 24.
     The Pennsylvania Medical Society, headquartered in Harrisburg, has
 advocated for patients and their doctors for more than 150 years.  Since its
 beginning, the Society has represented its members throughout the commonwealth
 on issues that directly affect patient care.  Today, the organization
 continues to promote a strong patient-doctor relationship in the delivery of
 health care.  To learn more about the Pennsylvania Medical Society, visit its
 Website at www.pamedsoc.org.
 
 

SOURCE Pennsylvania Medical Society
    HARRISBURG, Pa., April 12 /PRNewswire/ -- Doctors in southeastern
 Pennsylvania say that the negative impact of skyrocketing malpractice premiums
 is so serious that on April 24, they'll make a second trip to the state
 Capitol this year to alert state senators and representatives that patient
 care is suffering as a result.
     One month earlier, five busloads of doctors from Philadelphia and
 surrounding communities made the trek into Harrisburg for identical reasons.
     According to the Pennsylvania Medical Society, major liability insurance
 carriers in Pennsylvania implemented overall rate increases ranging from 21 to
 more than 60 percent.  In addition, a segment of doctors saw significant
 increases higher than 75 percent.
     A survey of more than 400 doctors conducted by the Pennsylvania Medical
 Society indicates that the sudden increase in premiums is deteriorating
 patient care.  Limited access may be occurring as 72 percent of those surveyed
 say they have deferred the purchase of new equipment or hiring of new staff.
 In addition, the Society says that Pennsylvania has serious problems
 recruiting new doctors into the commonwealth.
     Furthermore, a review of CAT Fund data conducted by the Pennsylvania
 Medical Society suggests that the state has lost nearly 11 percent of its
 doctors since 1997.
     "Specialists are deciding not to take on high-risk cases out of fear of
 facing a meritless lawsuit, and networks are losing doctors as a result," said
 Carol E. Rose, MD, president of the Pennsylvania Medical Society.  "If we
 allow this problem to grow like an unchecked tumor, patients will eventually
 face serious access problems when they need care the most as more doctors
 decide to retire early, move out of the state, or stop high-risk procedures."
     In addition to a statewide loss of physicians, Dr. Rose points out that
 Philadelphia lost 10.2 percent of its doctors since 1999, while Delaware
 County has lost 17 percent since 1997.  Even worse, Chester County lost
 33 percent of its physicians since 1997, while Montgomery County's physician
 population decreased 25 percent during the same time period.
     Doctors blame an out-of-control legal system and a litigious environment
 as the cause for skyrocketing premiums leading to patient access problems.
 Data from the Physician Insurers Association of America reveals that in 1999
 less than 30 percent of all malpractice claims result in a financial payment
 to the plaintiff, suggesting a high level of meritless claims.  In addition,
 according to data from the National Health Care Practitioner Data Bank,
 Pennsylvania is the second worst state in the country for the total medical
 malpractice payments for physicians.  Pennsylvania's total payments represent
 nearly 10 percent of the national total.
     The Pennsylvania Medical Society says that while many Philadelphia area
 doctors may be unavailable to provide care on April 24 as a result of
 legislative meetings in Harrisburg, emergency care shouldn't be hampered on
 that day.
     Doctors are scheduled to begin arriving at the State Capitol's East
 Entrance around 9 a.m. on April 24.
     The Pennsylvania Medical Society, headquartered in Harrisburg, has
 advocated for patients and their doctors for more than 150 years.  Since its
 beginning, the Society has represented its members throughout the commonwealth
 on issues that directly affect patient care.  Today, the organization
 continues to promote a strong patient-doctor relationship in the delivery of
 health care.  To learn more about the Pennsylvania Medical Society, visit its
 Website at www.pamedsoc.org.
 
 SOURCE  Pennsylvania Medical Society