The surprising issue of medical malpractice coverage in Georgia and what it could mean to you

A recent Atlanta Journal and Constitution article (http://www.ajc.com/news/news/thousands-of-georgia-doctors-lack-malpractice-insu/nf8jr/) shed light on a surprising and disturbing fact that more than 2500 doctors in Georgia (just under 8% of all doctors in Georgia) do not have medical malpractice insurance.  Furthermore, it was a surprise to me that Georgia (along with 31 other states) does not require physicians to carry medical malpractice insurance.  Having said that, the article also states that some of those 2500 physicians no longer practice medicine because of retirement or they no longer see patients because they primarily perform lab research or there has been a complete change in profession as in the example of a doctor who became a state congressman.  So admittedly the number may not be wholly accurate.  Never the less they are still eye opening and cause to stop and think.  If you are curious about your own doctor, the AJC has also provided a link to help you check, (http://www.myajc.com/news/doctors-no-insurance-sanctions/).

Why is this important?  Before I read this article, I had no idea there were that many doctors still actively seeing patients without malpractice coverage, including a cosmetic surgeon who was trained in and practiced emergency medicine.  For you the patient this is incredibly important.  In the event of a major problem, what recourse do you have if your doctor does not have malpractice insurance?  Turns out not much.  Secondly, ask yourself, what kind of choice is your doctor making if he or she decides not have medical malpractice and why would they choose to practice that way?  If that is the way they make decisions, what sort of decisions might they make about your care?  I do not claim to have the answers here nor am I passing judgement on every doctor who does not have malpractice coverage, but I ask myself if the decision to not have coverage has the patient’s best interest in mind?  In the practice of medicine doctors are often asked to put the best interest of their patients ahead of there own, something that many of us doing willingly on a regular basis.  I just can not see how choosing to practice “bare” without insurance fits into the belief of taking the best care of our patients.

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