Doctors to address malpractice crisis

Friday, April 16, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 8:24 p.m. CDT, Friday, July 4, 2008

Physicians from Boone, Cooper and Howard counties will gather at Boone County Courthouse Square 12:15 p.m. today to draw attention to the state’s medical malpractice insurance crisis.

Dr. Michael Burks, president of the Boone County Medical Society, said the rising cost of malpractice insurance premiums affects the affordability of health care for everyone. Insurers across the state have raised their rates, with InterMed, Missouri’s largest malpractice insurer, raising premiums by more than 80 percent.

"Doctors are concerned about access and affordability of insurance," Burks said. "It is financial, but our concern transcends the financial part."

Burk said the crisis is beginning to affect the number of people entering the profession.

"It’s getting to the point where it’s difficult to practice medicine and help patients," he said.

Burk said many Missouri physicians support legislation that would cap non-economic, pain-and-suffering damages. Such a measure is now before the Missouri General Assembly, as well as the U.S. Senate. Burk expressed frustration that the federal bill, which has the support of President Bush, has stalled.

"It may take calling your doctor and realizing there’s not a doctor on the other end of the line before something gets done," he said.

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