Doctors Protest Malpractice Costs Today; Maryland Medical Society Fears Physician Flight If Limits Are Not Set

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Byline: Tom Ramstack, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The Maryland State Medical Society is urging doctors to close their offices today and withhold routine medical care during a rally in Annapolis to protest rising malpractice insurance premiums.

The medical society, also called MedChi, wants state lawmakers to pass four bills that would limit damages in malpractice cases.

The measures would cap attorneys' fees and allow doctors to spread payments for malpractice settlements over an extended period of time instead of a lump sum.

Mike Preston, MedChi executive director, said doctors are being forced out of business, retiring or moving out of state as their malpractice insurance bills rise.

"More than 2,000 physicians are turning out for this rally in order to make the point that medical malpractice lawsuits are damaging our health care system," Dr. Preston said. "The General Assembly needs to act this year or Maryland will have a crisis akin to other states, like Pennsylvania."

Pennsylvania is one of 19 states the American Medical Association lists as being in a "crisis" because of a scarcity of medical care as a result of high insurance costs.

"The payout in claims continues to increase," said Donald Palmisano, AMA president, who plans to speak today during the rally on the steps of the Maryland statehouse. …