Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Is the Death of the Medical Profession Coming?


by Dr. Elaina George


Reports estimate that 50-60% of doctors will be sued during the course of their career. However, only 10-20% of those cases actually go to trial. Of those that go to trial, doctors are found innocent of malpractice 80% of the time. This demonstrates the fact that although the perception exists that there may be a lot of bad doctors practicing bad medicine this is actually not the case.

Unfortunately, this perception has led to an explosion in the costs of practicing medicine. Over the last 5-10 years medical malpractice premiums have gone through the roof from primary care to neurosurgery. In Florida, for example, malpractice premiums for OB-GYNs have risen to as high as 250,000 per year. This staggering statistic highlights the unintended consequence of limiting access to medical care for women who live in those states. Florida is not alone, it is happening all over the country. Physicians have either moved out of state, retired early, or they have restricted the type of medicine they practice because they cannot afford the cost of doing business.

The medical malpractice industry operates very much like the medical insurance industry. They have raised premiums on physicians by double digits every year since 2004. They have denied doctors coverage and in some cases doctors have had to limit their scope of practice to be able to afford the premiums. Meanwhile, the profits among the medical malpractice companies are some of the highest within the insurance property/casualty industry according to the Americans for insurance report .

I know a colleague who at the peak of his profession has stopped performing surgery and is now leaving ENT because the cost of his malpractice premiums was simply overwhelming. This trend is affecting patients now. Not only are we losing doctors with the most experience, we are facing a long term physician shortage because less of the best and brightest people are choosing to go to medical school not only because of restrictions on how they treat their patients, but also because they have little to look forward to except overwhelming debt with little prospect of paying it off.


Dr Elaina George is Board certified Otolaryngologist who started Peachtree ENT Center with a mission to practice state of the art medicine that is available to everyone. She graduated from Princeton University with a degree in Biology. She received her Masters degree in Medical Microbiology at Long Island University, and received her medical degree from Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. Dr George completed her residency at Manhattan, Eye Ear & Throat Hospital. Her training included general surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital, pediatric ENT at The NY-Presbyterian Hospital, and head and neck oncology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. She has published in several scientific journals and presented her research at national meetings.

To contact Dr. George, please call (901) 413-0203


Anonymous said...

This is scary. Will health care reform help with this problem?

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