Malpractice insurance has doctors in a bind; Rising rates in state reflect national trend

Delaware’s News Journal
Monday, January 7, 2002

Premiums for medical malpractice insurance have risen 30 percent to 70 percent since July, the Medical Society of Delaware has said.

The increase is affecting the 1,500 to 2,000 active physicians in Delaware, and could affect patients, doctors said.

When doctors are hit with such sharp increases, which are occurring across the nation, they have few options to cover the costs areas doctors said.

“We cant’ just raise our rates” said Dr. Dennis R. Witmer, a general surgeon in private practice in Wilmington, who also is president of the medical dental staff at Christiana Care Health Systems.

But there are disagreements over the cause of rising rates. Some blame damages awards in malpractice lawsuits. Others said premiums are rising because the insurance industry has lost money in the stock market.

Attorney [Melanie] Sharp, who successfully argued two of the recent malpractice cases that resulted in large verdicts, said the stock market is a stronger indicator of insurance rates.

Joanne Doroshow of the Center for Justice & Democracy in New York agreed, blaming the insurance industry for malpractice woes. “They [the doctors] are being price-gouged,” Doroshow said. All a cap on jury awards would do is hurt the people who are most severely injured, and the ones most likely to receive a large jury award,” she said.

For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D.

Join Our Fight!

The Center for Justice & Democracy is the only national consumer organization in the country exclusively dedicated to protecting our civil justice system. If you'd like more information, please contact us.

Connect with us