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Doctors Recommend Malpractice Tort Reform

July 30, 2002

Re "Bush Seeks to Limit Malpractice Suits," July 25: Jamie Court, executive director of the California-based Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, is dead wrong in opposing President Bush in his effort to cap exorbitant malpractice settlements. Court states, quite dramatically, that Californians are paying with their lives for the malpractice caps that were put in place years ago and that the California health-care system is a "death trap."

Did he notice that the Las Vegas trauma unit was closed recently? Doctors are voting with their feet and leaving states like Nevada that have allowed the attorneys to run wild for too long. It is the people of Las Vegas who are paying with their lives today because people like Court are holding up long-overdue changes in malpractice regulations.

The law of supply and demand is at work here, and the supply of doctors is running out.

Joe Fiore MD

San Diego

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The Times reported that Bush is proposing a nationwide standard to ease the malpractice crisis currently at critical levels in 12 states, based upon the model of California's successful Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act of the past 25 years.

As a practicing obstetrician for more than 25 years, I have been a part of that system here in California and have watched company after company leave California and have seen my malpractice premiums increase annually to the point where soon (if there is no reform ) it will not be economically feasible to practice obstetrics in California for myself and thousands of other OB/GYNs as well.

Some colleagues are paying more than $100,000 per year. Court, whom you quoted as saying such a move "will turn aspects of the health-care system into an even bigger death trap," is, in my opinion, out of touch with the reality of the situation. If malpractice tort reform doesn't occur across the United States, including improvements here in California, pregnant women, for example, will have to travel perhaps many, many miles to find obstetrical care, if any at all. Court needs to go no further than the nearest practicing obstetrician to get a reality check on the current crisis.

Michael L. Friedman MD

Torrance

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