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Doctors Lobby In Favor Of Cap For Medical Malpractice Awards

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Close to 3,000 doctors and representatives of medical professionals are expected to attend a Tuesday afternoon rally at the state Legislature to lobby state lawmakers.

Medical professionals are lobbying for a bill that caps medical malpractice awards. They say a cap is needed to stop rising insurance premiums.

Dr. Tim Detamer, a retired neurosurgeon from Fayetteville, said the trip to Raleigh is a public service campaign to discuss the medical malpractice crisis that doctors are in.

"It is quite a unique experience," he said. "Certainly, we have a lot of things that we need to do to take care of our patients, but we all feel that it is an extremely important time to get together to make a statement to our community and our legislators to let them know that the way medicine is going, we cannot continue to assure good quality medicine and care to our patients unless we get some relief in the malpractice issue."

However, a patients rights group supported by trial lawyers blames the insurance industry for the problem.

"We believe putting profits over patients' safety is not a solution," said Marion Smith, of the North Carolina Coalition for Patients' Rights. "I can sympathize with the good doctors who are suffering from exorbitant insurance rates, but insurance reform and not taking our right to a jury trial when we have been grieviously wronged is the solution to this problem."

More than 150 doctors in the Fayetteville-Cumberland County area closed their offices so they could plead their case.

The General Assembly is considering two bills that would place a $250,000 limit on pain and suffering awards in malpractice cases. State lawmakers say they will take a couple of months studying options and promised to pass medical malpractice reform that would be a model for the nation.


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