Physicians protest cost of insurance; About 2,000 march outside State House; Ehrlich voices support

Baltimore Sun
Thursday, January 22, 2004

Doctors from around the state, many wearing white lab coats over winter jackets, rallied in Annapolis yesterday against rising medical malpractice premiums, saying the costs have forced some to stop offering services such as delivering babies and have jeopardized access to other health care.

But at a nearby office building, a few dozen people who said they received poor medical care gathered to voice opposition to limiting jury awards. The victims, many in tears, recounted stories of lost children, parents and limbs. They said their anger was targeted at doctors who make mistakes.

Some said they want the medical profession to better police itself. And they point to a report from the consumer group Public Citizen that said about 3 percent of doctors were responsible for half of the malpractice awards in Maryland since 1990.

Gene Stilp, a field organizer for the Center for Justice & Democracy, a national consumer group that organized the counter-gathering, said that in addition to policing "bad" doctors, an evaluation of the insurance industry's recent premium increases is needed.

The increases might be the result of a bad economy and insurers' stock market losses, some victim advocates said.

“Let's not make this doctors vs. patients,” Stilp said. “Let's figure out what the real problem is.”

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