NJ Hospitals Call for Med Mal Reform

June 14, 2002

Perhaps inspired by the success of their colleagues in neighboring Pennsylvania, the New Jersey Hospital Association (NJHA) issued a call for the reform of the state’s medical malpractice insurance system.

“The fact that the skyrocketing cost of insurance is driving many physicians out of medicine is a disgrace,” said NJHA President Gary Carter in a press bulletin. “If nothing is done to harness runaway premium hikes and doctors being denied insurance, patients will ultimately experience problems getting certain healthcare services.”

The bulletin stated that, “Hundreds of obstetricians, other physicians and patients gathered on the Statehouse steps to hear stories of how some doctors are retiring early, leaving the state or dropping out of high-risk specialties. They urged the state Legislature to act in passing tort reform while encouraging more insurance companies to do business in the state.”

The recent collapse of Pennsylvania-based PHICO, and New Jersey-based MIIX Inc.’s ongoing financial problems have caused particular concern to NJ’s health care providers, who are justifiably worried about the continuing availability and the increasing cost of their insurance .

“A recent NJHA survey showed that nearly two-thirds of hospitals reporting had at least one physician who was forced to cease practice or was considering leaving medicine as a result of being dropped from coverage or being unable to afford premium increases. Some specialists have reported malpractice premiums doubling into six figures during one year. The NJHA survey showed hospital institutional premiums climbing from $373,328 in 1999 to $942,539 this year, on average,” said the announcement.

The NJHA has made several proposals, including, “a cap on lawsuit non-economic damages; a tightening of lawsuit statute of limitations; a voluntary hospital and physician quality improvement and error reporting system that protects that information from being used in court as self incrimination and added reforms that would make New Jersey a more attractive marketplace for insurance companies.”|”nj, hospitals, call, med, mal, reform

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