Chamber Study Shows WV Legal System Harmful to Patients

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January 22, 2003

WASHINGTON, D.C., Jan. 13, 2003 - The United States Chamber of Commerce today warned out of control medical malpractice liability is forcing doctors to leave West Virginia and harming the quality of patient care provided by those doctors who remain, according to a poll of West Virginia physicians.

"This poll is a siren call to West Virginia that their state's litigation system is in critical condition," said Kate Sullivan, Chamber director of health care policy. "Lawmakers must make meaningful changes to heal the civil justice system before patients suffer."

According to a Harris Interactive´┐Ż survey of 289 West Virginia doctors, a substantial majority believe the state's malpractice liability system is undermining the practice of medicine and the delivery of health care, and nine out of ten physicians do not feel they can trust the current justice system to achieve reasonable outcomes.

"Our survey shows that concerns about malpractice liability are having a real impact on the way doctors treat their patients," said David Krane, Senior Vice President of Harris Interactive. "Setting aside improvements in technology or medical knowledge, half of the physicians we questioned believe their ability to provide quality medical care has gotten worse over the past five years - a disturbing finding indeed."

Additionally, two out of three doctors surveyed (65%) say that concern over unreasonable malpractice liability has caused them to consider practicing medicine in another state. A large majority (90%) believes there is a shortage of doctors in WV, and of those doctors, virtually all (99%) believe that malpractice liability is among the factors responsible.

Harris Interactive (www.harrisinteractive.com) is a worldwide market research and consulting firm best known for The Harris Poll´┐Ż and for pioneering the Internet method to conduct scientifically accurate market research.