Docs doff scrubs, blame game begins


The American Medical Association contends that Oregon is in the midst of a medical malpractice crisis, one that is forcing doctors to give up their practices

A survey of the state's obstetricians released last week by Oregon Health & Science University served to illustrate the problem.

The study showed that 125 obstetricians and other doctors who deliver babies have left their practices over the last four years. Most of them Ñ about 74 percent Ñ worked in rural communities.

About 60 percent of the state's obstetrical providers answered the survey; a third of them said they plan to stop delivering babies within the next five years.

Obstetricians aren't the only doctors facing spiraling malpractice costs.

Trauma surgeons and neurosurgeons and others who specialize in high-risk medical procedures are seeing their rates spike.

Most insurers and many doctors blame excessive jury awards and settlements in lawsuits. They want to limit the amount of awards for pain and suffering and other noneconomic damages to $250,000.

Reform of the insurance industry is the solution favored by lawyers who represent patients in malpractice lawsuits.