Legislators take med-mal deadlock head-on

Chicago Daily Law Bulletin
Wednesday, February 23, 2005

An Illinois House panel hauled the major players in the ongoing medical malpractice debate to the first of several hearings Wednesday, in a move aimed to break the impasse on the issue.
House Speaker Michael J. Madigan, D-Chicago, and his top attorney joined the Judiciary Committee on Civil Law as advocates for hospitals, doctors, consumers, insurance companies and trial lawyers discussed their explanations for high insurance premiums.
The House and Senate have both scheduled a number of public hearings on why doctors' insurance rates have skyrocketed in Illinois and how to bring those costs down.
That approach is different from the one that lawmakers used last year, when small groups of legislators met with interest groups behind closed doors and tried to hammer out a deal.
Negotiations collapsed in the final week of last year's record overtime session.

But Robert A. Clifford, the Chicago trial attorney, said the reason that insurers are staying away from the Chicago market is because of the high number of medical errors there.
He also said verdict and settlement award sizes have risen at about the same rate as medical inflation, which is much higher than the inflation rate overall.
And Amber Hard, staff director for the Center for Justice and Democracy, said the primary goal of medical malpractice legislation should be to protect patients.
She cited estimates that showed that more people died of medical errors than from AIDS, breast cancer or traffic accidents.
For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D

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