Pennsylvania malpractice roundup

The IssuesPA/Pew Poll has found that a remarkable 26 percent of Pennsylvanians polled “said rising malpractice insurance costs have forced their family to change doctors in the past year”, and that state residents polled also favored a constitutional cap on pain and suffering damages by a margin of 68 percent to 24 percent. (The state legislature has refused to allow such a measure to reach the ballot.)(doctor availability survey, Sept.; caps survey, Aug.). The Scranton Times Tribune, a newspaper heretofore known for skepticism about the extent of a malpractice crisis, now credits reports that the number of local doctors practicing in key specialties “has declined sharply in recent years” and that specialties with high legal risk are disproportionately affected (Jeff Sonderman, “Area losing its specialists”, Sept. 12). And in a Sept. 3 speech in Scranton, President Bush “cited the tale of Carbondale physician Neal Davis … Dr. Davis, a longtime family practitioner, stopped delivering patients’ children in January because he could no longer afford obstetrics insurance.” The result, said Bush, was that “then-expectant mother Mary Coar of Honesdale [was] out in the cold”; she wound up driving 50 miles each way to see different doctors. (Chris Burk, “Bush stresses liability reform by tale of Carbondale doctor”, Scranton Times Tribune, Sept. 4). More on Pa. malpractice: Jul. 16, May 20, Jan. 18, 2004; Sept. 12 and Jul. 23, 2003, etc.

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