Liability surcharges will be seen as a physician "money grab"

LETTER — Posted July 26, 2004

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The action taken by the AMA House of Delegates to study liability surcharges (Article, July 5) finds me once again frustrated by this professional organization. As a family physician who trains residents and does obstetrics, I see rising malpractice premiums driving good family doctors out of doing OB.

This problem cannot be addressed in isolation, however. As a profession, we must first and foremost advocate for our patients (part of the definition of professionalism). We must advocate loudly for, dare I say, universal access to comprehensive health care for all Americans and not continue to support incremental changes that appear to be driven by our self-interest. This is how we will ally the public to assist us with this problem, not by adding surcharges that will be perceived as another "money grab" by physicians.

Physician malpractice and income concerns are important, but single focus on these issues reflect poorly on our profession. We would serve each other and the public better if the AMA acted more as a professional organization (patient advocacy) and less as a trade union (self-advocacy).

Tim Lambert, DO, Traverse City, Mich.

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2004/07/26/edlt0726.htm.

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