Survey: Pa. Med-Mal Coverage Elusive

September 27, 2002

A survey conducted by the Pennsylvania Orthopaedic Society of its member physicians indicates that medical malpractice insurance coverage is getting harder to obtain as rates continue to increase.

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, survey respondents reported that reforms passed by the Pennsylvania Legislature earlier in 2002 have so far done little to alleviate the situation.

Pennsylvania Orthopaedic Society President Dr. Jeffrey Baum claimed that the survey results show the need for more legislation to address the problem, given that patients’ access to specialty medical care is being curtailed because doctors cannot find proper coverage.

The society surveyed its 1,100 members over the summer. Some 30 percent of participants reported that their medical malpractice policies either definitely or may not be renewed another year.

State legislators passed reforms to reduce jury awards against doctors in malpractice suits in an effort to get insurers to lower rates and increase capacity. For the short term, the Legislature reduced the limit of malpractice coverage required for doctors to practice, and also tapped a $40 million fund collected on state traffic tickets to help physicians pay for coverage.

Baum and other doctors contend that these efforts will not do enough to improve rates or capacity, and are pressing for more reforms.

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