Friday, September 4, 2009

Malpractice suits: who really pays at the end?

New York City HallImage via Wikipedia
Did you know that in New York City, 92.2% of OB/GYN doctors have been sued for malpractice at least once? And the average is 3 times each? The effect is OB/GYN driven out of the city altogether, or just GYN, no more OB.

Another OB/GYN doctor remarked: in 1981 his medical malpractice insurance is only $8000 per year. Now it's $155000 (2009). His practice can't pay for the insurance, at about $50 per appt, so he's getting out of the business. Average malpractice insurance for non-OB/GYN doctors in NYC is $40000.

Stats show that less than 30% of the malpractice suits actually have a chance of winning. The rest are frivolous.

This leads to OB/GYN in NY demanding CASH, and refuse to take insurance. The chances of them getting anything from the insurance company is almost nil.

With rising jury payouts and corresponding rising insurance rates, doctors are actually ordering MORE procedures done just in order to CYA (cover your ass). This ultimately hurts the insured, and later, the rest of the public, as the uninsured is forced to use emergency room for treatment, or the baby did not get the needed care and require more care for rest of his/her life. There are indirect costs as well.

For example, even though it is possible to deliver baby naturally, if there are complications due to a somewhat more complicated birth than usual, the delivery doctor may get sued. So doctors, not wanted trouble, will often order a C-section, even when it's not really needed.

Another example: with insurance rates at 150K, the doctor needs to charge several hundred just to cover the insurance cost of a delivery. This leads to a lot of unnecessary tests done on the mother and child, and just about every patient that comes through the door.

Remember that when you go to the doctor he just checks your tongue, uses the stethoscope on you, takes your temp, then writes something in the chart, and that's about it? Nowadays you get blood work, urine work, EKG, EEG... Not only is the patient nervous, so is the doctor!

How about this: Mt. Sinai in NYC spend 17 months to find a doctor who is experienced in reading mammograms to detect breast cancer, and is willing to practice in New York. Remember, if you say she's okay, and she finds breast cancer later, LAWSUIT! Result? Most doctors, even those who study breast cancer and oncology, refuse to make diagnosis based on X-rays.

Over 100 OB/GYN doctors have quit in the past 6 years, and two dozen or so OB/GYN clinics have closed in NYC in similar amount of time.

Only plastic surgeons are sued more than OB/GYN.

The problem is even MORE acute with minority OB/GYN doctors.

That's why this "medical insurance reform" is ultimately doomed, if the cost of insurance is not reined in.

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