Southern Maryland News has an article about a serious problem: the shortage of doctors in Southern Maryland. This is a good issue that needs attention. I’ve written about this on the Maryland Injury Lawyer blog in the past in a post titled “Doctor Shortage in Maryland? A Doctor in Southern Maryland Says There Is a Shortage of Doctors.”
Yet, bizarrely, the article focuses on medical malpractice insurance, profiling the ostensibly tragic story of Dr. Charlene Letchford who was forced by the “skyrocketing cost of medical malpractice insurance” to join a group of doctors at Calvert Memorial. Apparently, the bill “recently jumped from $11,000 to $16,000 a year.”
Now, is it possible – just possible – that this $5,000 was not the deal breaker? Are there other possible alternatives to explain why her practice was not successful other than the additional $13.70 she has to pay every day for malpractice coverage?
The article also points to the insurance company reimbursement rates which are increasingly defeating attorneys in the battle to be the archenemy of Maryland doctors. But it is troubling the extent to which doctors seek to bundle up all of their problems and place them at the doorstep of medical malpractice lawsuits.
The article includes the following bizarre quotes from Dr. Barry Aron, an OB/GYN in La Plata (Charles County):
Even if the case is dismissed the lawsuit still counts against you with the insurance carrier. It’s a losing situation. Even if a doctor wins a case the insurance company still pays out money.
It’s all a game to the lawyers involved. It’s kind of a shame. The way the system works is that pain and suffering brings in a lot of money.
First, I think Dr. Aron is wrong that dismissed malpractice suits raise a doctor’s medical malpractice premiums in Maryland. Second, how is it a “game” to malpractice lawyers? What does that even mean? Third, “kind of” a shame? Do you have patients that are “kind of” pregnant? Finally, yeah, pain and suffering brings in a lot of money. If a doctor hurts a patient and causes lifelong pain and suffering, what exactly do you propose, Dr. Aron?
Curiosity led me to Dr. Aron’s sites on the web. He has a few websites. Just looking at this one, I’d be willing to bet $50 Dr. Aron is a nice guy who is probably a good doctor. And maybe he was misquoted, I don’t know. But these quotes are ridiculous.