Massachusetts practice environment index paints poor picture

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted May 9, 2005

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The Massachusetts Medical Society's recently released Physician Practice Environment Index for 2004 showed that the practice environment for the state's physicians dropped for the 11th straight year.

The index is a statistical indicator of nine factors that shape the overall environment in which physicians provide patient care in Massachusetts. For example, medical liability insurance costs and hours per week spent in patient care are considered. The index dropped 1.8% for 2004.

The U.S. Physician Practice Environment, a companion index that the MMS compiles to reflect the national practice environment, also fell at a rate of 2.3%. That's the ninth consecutive drop for the national figure.

"The bad news is that it just keeps dropping," MMS President Alan C. Woodward, MD, said in a statement. "But the sad irony is that in a state known throughout the world for its quality of medical care, physicians in Massachusetts continue to work in a practice environment that's worse than the rest of the nation."

Dr. Woodward said the state and national declines had been fueled by the same factor: sharp increases in the cost of medical liability insurance. Medical liability reform is a top advocacy priority of the MMS as well as the American Medical Association.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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