Ads bring malpractice issue to Maine

Bangor Daily News
Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Although it's not an especially contentious issue here, the medical malpractice battle is being brought to Maine this week, courtesy of national consumer advocacy groups and local television.

Beginning today, a series of short advertisements will encourage Maine TV audiences to join the malpractice fray. The consumer advocacy groups sponsoring the ads hope Mainers will pressure Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, both moderate Republicans, to oppose a Bush administration initiative calling for limits on jury awards in malpractice lawsuits.

Malpractice insurance in some states costs doctors $150,000 to $200,000 a year, one of many factors driving the upward spiral of health care costs. President Bush wants to lower costs by imposing a federal cap of $250,000 on the "pain and suffering" portion of malpractice awards, but consumer groups say capping erodes patient rights while protecting physicians, hospitals and the insurance industry.

With a White House-endorsed bill already approved by the House, the organizations USAction and the Center for Justice and Democracy are trying to enlist the sympathies of Maine television audiences to help derail Senate approval.

Two of the ads use real-life stories to engage viewers' sympathies for malpractice victims.

In one, a young woman describes her unnecessary double mastectomy, which was based on misread laboratory findings.

Another features an engaging 2-year-old boy, who died when doctors failed to treat his simple dehydration.
For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D.

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