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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Trial Bar is on the Attack

A north-Jersey based medical malpractice attorney is on the defensive following NJLRA’s Op-ed in the Trenton Times (“Tort Reform is Key to a Healthier New Jersey”, 12/20/09).

NJLRA’s op-ed detailed the personal story of a UMDNJ student, who is faced with the harsh reality of having to either abandon his life-long dream of becoming an OBGYN, or move out of the state he grew up in order to do so.  This is a growing trend among New Jersey’s medical students who cannot afford the astronomical malpractice insurance required of New Jersey’s specialty doctors on top of their student loans. 

NJLRA has underscored that even seasoned obstetricians have had to significantly scale back the services they provide in order to keep pace with mounting malpractice premiums.  Included in this category is Mercer County’s Dr. Dolores Williams, who testified to a legislative panel that she was forced to decide between delivering dozens of additional babies each month in order to offset malpractice premiums, or stop delivering babies altogether.  She chose the latter.  Larger awards above and beyond reasonable compensation, extracted from as many physicians as possible, drive insurance rates increasingly higher.  Combined, these scenarios amount to an impending healthcare crisis for New Jersey, and as Assemblywoman Amy Handlin (R-Monmouth) emphasized during a legislative voting session, “Yes, it is indeed a crisis.” 

The attorney, however, apparently takes issue with the notion that fewer doctors practicing specialized medicine in New Jersey is a bad thing.  He does not address that New Jersey is high among the American Medical Association’sleast desirable states” in which to practice medicine.  At some point, fewer specialty doctors per capita translates into diminished access to care, particularly for those who don’t have the option of traveling in order to receive it. 

There is a reason malpractice attorneys are able to thrive in New Jersey, and it’s not because the number of malpractice cases have decreased. 

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Perhaps, now that you have a governor who 'gets it' you can create some momentum for tort reform. Physicians in Ohio are less vulnerable now that we have caps in place. Like you, we have the affidavit of merit requirement, which is a very low bar for plaintiffs to overcome. I will be following your situation. For a physician's perspective (who's Dad sued doctors), see www.MDWhistleblower.blogspot.com under Legal Quality.

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