Why Doctors Are Quitting Medical Practice: Behind the Malpractice Crisis

By Adrianson, Alex | Consumers' Research Magazine, June 2003 | Go to article overview

Why Doctors Are Quitting Medical Practice: Behind the Malpractice Crisis


Adrianson, Alex, Consumers' Research Magazine


Newspapers across the country report a developing crisis in medical practice--doctors quitting and hospitals cutting services because they can't afford the soaring cost of medical malpractice insurance.

From the Houston Chronicle: In July 2002, Las Vegas' only level-one trauma center had to shut down for 10 days because its surgeons could not afford their liability insurance premiums. The closing left Las Vegas residents 80 miles from the nearest operating level-one trauma center. One auto accident victim was reported to have died at a local hospital while awaiting transportation to the out-of-town location.

From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: In October, 2002, a gynecological oncologist left his group practice because of rising malpractice premiums. As a result, he closed a rural outreach clinic. Now some women with gynecological cancers are forced to travel over 100 miles to receive treatment.

From the Las Vegas Review-Journal: A woman was forced to wait six months to have three lumps removed from her uterus. She said she probably would still be waiting for the surgery if she had not gone to her doctor's office and refused to leave until the surgery had been scheduled. The county medical society says over 30 Las Vegas obstetricians have left town because they cannot find affordable malpractice coverage.

From Health Care News: Forty percent of kidney specialists in Manatee County, near Tampa, Fla., have been unable to renew their malpractice insurance for 2003. Medicare regulations require a kidney specialist to be on hand for open-heart surgeries.

According to the American Medical Association, 24% of specialists have stopped providing some high-risk services--like delivering babies. A 2002 survey by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists found that 73% of ob/gyn specialists had been forced to retire, relocate or modify their practice.

Behind this medical exodus lie reports of soaring malpractice insurance premiums for physicians--especially for certain areas and for certain specialties. While doctors' yearly premiums can vary widely, they typically run into the tens of thousands and sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars. The Louisville Courier-Journal recently reported one obstetrician who stopped delivering babies in April 2003, in order to reduce her malpractice premiums from $300,000 to $49,000. Medical Liability Monitor reports that ob/gyn specialists in Miami pay an average of $210,576 a year for coverage. The figure for Las Vegas was $141,917.

Medical Liability Monitor reports that internists, general surgeons, and ob/gyns have faced double-digit percentage increases in liability premiums for two years running. Newspapers also contain various reports of increases exceeding 100%. The Los Angeles Times, for example, reported one obstetrician who moved her practice from Las Vegas to West Los Angeles because her malpractice premium increased from $37,000 to $150,000. According to the Washington State Medical Education Research Foundation, some Washington doctors have seen a tripling of their premiums since 1998.

While the nature and causes of these premium increases are vigorously debated, two things are clear. First, the cost of defending lawsuits and paying awards and settlements for alleged malpractice has increased. In 2001, the total costs were estimated to be $21 billion, up from $9.4 billion in 1991. The increase, while not dramatic, has been steady over the past decade. That is true even when the data are adjusted to account for inflation- and the growth in the number of doctors practicing in the United States. Since 1991, the inflation adjusted per-doctor cost of malpractice lawsuits has increased 14%. Since 1975, the per-doctor cost has gone up 47%. (See table below.)

The second factor affecting physicians' premiums for malpractice insurance has been the generally negative investment climate. Premiums are connected to the investment climate because insurers price their policies based not only on the costs they expect to incur in offering the coverage, but also on the income they expect to earn on the premiums they are able to invest. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Why Doctors Are Quitting Medical Practice: Behind the Malpractice Crisis
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.