Fed-up obstetricians look for a way out

USA Today
Sunday, June 30, 2002

Twice last month, Las Vegas obstetrician/gynecologist Shelby Wilbourn saw patients who'd made an appointment under a false pretense.

They said they were having irregular menstrual periods. But when they met Wilbourn face-to-face, they fessed up. The reason they hadn't had a period in a couple of months was because they were pregnant, not because their cycle was out of whack.

"I had to close the chart and say, 'Ma'am, I can't help you, because I'm not doing OB anymore,' " Wilbourn says. "They just started sobbing in the office."


Joanne Doroshow, executive director of the Center for Justice & Democracy in New York, a non-profit group that opposes tort reform, says states need to aggressively question insurers' rates.

"If you're just going to look at tort laws, we're going to be in the exact situation we were 15 years ago during the last crisis," says Doroshow, who says her group has no ties to trial lawyers.

She questions ACOG's tort reform campaign. "Women are being exploited here, basically threatened with inaccessible health care unless they give up their rights to sue doctors who commit malpractice on them," Doroshow says.

Yet, she says, she empathizes with the many doctors like Wilbourn who've never been sued or had a successful claim against them but are facing six-figure malpractice premiums. Because insurers charge all members of a specialty the same rates, Doroshow says, "the good doctors are paying for the bad doctors."

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

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