New York, according to one recent study, is the absolute worst place in the country to practice medicine.
Yet Albany has passed a “one-sided” bill to drastically increase health care costs by significantly increasing the numbers of lawsuits that could be brought against our profession. Physicians are very concerned with The Gazette’s Dec. 18 editorial, “Extend statute of limitations for cancer lawsuits,” endorsing the legislation.
If signed into law, this bill will undoubtedly exacerbate the physician shortages we face here in the Mohawk and Schoharie valleys. A recent study by the Healthcare Association of New York State noted that 86 percent of upstate hospitals indicated that sometimes they transfer patients from their emergency departments because the specialist they need is not available.
New York’s designation as the worst state to be a doctor was largely because our medical liability costs far exceed any other state.
Many other states such as California, Texas and Florida have exponentially less costs. These states have enacted some reasonable controls on liability awards. But not New York.
Regulating medical malpractice lawsuits requires a delicate balance. If there’s a need to expand the time to bring lawsuits, it must be balanced with legislation to address the flaws that cause our excessive costs.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo must set the balance by vetoing this bill and push for comprehensive reform that addresses the deficiencies for all parties — patients, lawyers, doctors and hospitals.
Joseph Sellers, MD
The writer is a family physician.