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Malpractice Caps Keep Doctors Working

January 11, 2003

It is appalling to equate the front-line physicians caring for America's patients with the cowardly and murderous intentions of hostage-takers ("Turning Patients Into Hostages," Commentary, Jan. 6). Jonathan Turley points out that physicians' liability insurance has dramatically increased. But he neglects to note that those hit hardest practice in states without effective reforms, including a cap on noneconomic damages. Without such reforms, a jackpot-justice mentality has replaced reasonableness and common sense. California's Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act is why ob-gyns in Los Angeles pay about $50,000 per year while in south Florida the rate is more than $200,000.

The bottom line is that for more than 25 years, MICRA has protected patients' access to the courts and their ability to be fully reimbursed for their medical expenses, rehabilitation costs and lost wages. California's MICRA law also ensures that patients' compensation -- not trial lawyers' -- is maximized. The only thing MICRA reduces is the number of meritless suits and jackpot-sized awards that line trial lawyers' pockets. The American Medical Assn. welcomes Turley's call for a "public debate," but let's do so with facts.

Donald J. Palmisano MD

President-Elect

American Medical Assn.

Chicago

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