No tort reform makes health care system sick

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 18, 2002

Each day ill people walk into the offices of physicians seeking help for their ailments. They come in dragging sore feet, coughing and holding ailing digits.

Patients place their lives in the hands of physicians. It’s a system of medicine that has been alive and working fairly well in our country for decades.

Somewhere along the way &045;&045; at least in Mississippi &045;&045; doctors began fearing for their own lives and livelihoods when they look into the eyes of a patient, too.

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That strange twist of fate is corrupting the medical system in Mississippi. Those changes are expected to become the subject of discussion today in Jackson.

This morning a Natchez physician will drive to Jackson and testify about how a lack of tort reform is affecting the Mississippi health care system. Notice we did not use the phrase &uot;will affect&uot; or &uot;could affect.&uot;

As Dr. Thomas Carey takes his seat before a joint legislative committee, miles away, here in Natchez, patients are being cheated.

The Natchez obstetrician and gynecologist is expected to tell lawmakers of a growing problem in Mississippi &045;&045; doctors who are afraid to prescribe certain drugs.

The drugs in question are not experimental. They are not high-risk drugs. These are FDA-approved forms of treatment for disease such as diabetes.

Fearing the possibility of being sued if some side effect occurs, a number of physicians are afraid to prescribe anything but ancient, tried and true medicines.

The overly careful practice helps protect physicians from liability, but it does not necessarily help patients get better.

Something must be done to curb the high insurance rates and sky-high court settlements. Our medical system has already been compromised. Can we afford to let matter get worse?