Doctors and their supporters mass on State House

Associated Press
Thursday, January 22, 2004

More than 2,000 physicians and their supporters rallied outside the seat of state government Wednesday, calling on their legislators to reform insurance laws that are allowing medical malpractice premiums to become too expensive for them to afford.

"By God, today we're going to show we're not afraid to become engaged in the politics of medicine," Catherine Smoot-Haselnus, an ophthalmologist from Salisbury, shouted to her colleagues, raising cheers from the crowd. "We must recognize this rally just represents a massing of the troops. It is just the beginning." 

At the same time, a group of patients who have filed medical malpractice claims gathered in a legislative building next door to protest the call for liability caps. They were organized by the Center for Justice and Democracy, a patients' rights group that opposes award limits. The coalition argues that insurance rates are cyclical and won't be relieved by lower caps.

Limiting the awards would make doctors less accountable, said Mark Cohen, who recently filed a suit when his 2-year-old daughter died after an apparent medical error at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

"If you limit the caps, you are going to create a climate for medical mistakes to thrive," Cohen told fellow patients and news reporters. "There won't be any incentive to practice safe medicine."
For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D.

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