Just as in a dozen or more states in the U.S., Australian doctors are claiming that skyrocketing med-mal premiums are forcing them out of the practice, according to a story
in the Sydney Morning Herald
. The story leads with Michael Kaye's claim:
The amount Michael Kaye is paid by Medicare to see a new patient has not quite doubled to $52 since he started working at Mona Vale Hospital in 1982, while the cost of his medical indemnity insurance has gone up from $100 to $50,000.
Dr Kaye has resigned in protest.
"I can't work without insurance and I can't afford the insurance," he said yesterday.
He is one of three obstetricians at the hospital to tender resignations this week, to become effective in three months unless the Government can find a way to stem rocketing insurance costs.
Dr Kaye says the hospital's eight orthopedic surgeons have resigned and about 12 more specialists plan to join them.
As here, the plaintiffs' bar has a different take on the med-mal crisis, but so far the rhetoric seems to be outpacing the analysis of causes and effects. Dr. Kaye is hoping for a no-fault compensation scheme, but meanwhile the bad blood between doctors and lawyers bodes poorly for a reasoned dialogue: "I got into this to help people, not try and defend myself to some smart-arse years after the event. Lawyers and judges can take a year to make a decision, we have to do it in half an hour or less."