Regarding: "Liability costs drive doctors from practice" (July 17): I've watched with great interest the debate between the insurance companies, lawyers, and doctors to determine who's most responsible for the meteoric rise in malpractice insurance costs. One fact seems clear: No malpractice means no malpractice claims, which means no rise in malpractice insurance rates.
The American Medical Association (AMA) refuses to disenfranchise doctors who are most responsible for the malpractice claims and, as a result, we all suffer the consequences. It's time legislators overcame the lobbying from the AMA and passed stringent quality controls to weed out the bad eggs from medicine. The sooner they take action on this, the better off we'll all be.
It is not only doctors who are quitting or changing areas of practice because of fears of malpractice suits.
I graduated as a nurse anesthetist in 1960, and went on to work in that field for years without ever having had a malpractice claim filed against me.
Because of the stress of being sure all paperwork was completed so some lawyer could not turn a successful outcome into a malpractice fiasco, and feeling that medicine was no longer for the patient's welfare, I quit and walked away from the work I loved 10 years before I had planned to retire.
The patients are the ones who suffer, and it is lawyers and those patients wanting to become multimillionaires because of false claims (or even actual complications) who are to blame.
I agree with the Citizens for Justice in Nevada referred to in "Liability costs drive doctors from practice" when they say that "as their [insurance companies'] investments lose value in the stock market, they're inflating premium prices." The same phenomenon is occurring in the housing industry.
State Farm, and many other insurers, are refusing to write new homeowners policies because of too many claims due to water intrusion. Builders can't seem to build houses today that will keep the rain out and at the same time the National Association of Home Builders' lobbyists are working hard to limit consumer protection.
All homeowners want is what they paid for a safe and sound home for their family. If builders build houses right or respond in a timely manner to repair defects properly, there would be no lawsuits in the first place.
Liberty, Mo. President, Homeowners Against Deficient Dwellings
William S. Klein's "The Gifts of a Kennedy Father" (Opinion, July 16) offers a refreshing look at Maryland's Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and the lasting impact that her father, Robert Kennedy, has had on her life as well as on our country. In an age of cynicism and political disengagement, Mr. Klein reminds readers of Mrs. Townsend's determination to carry on RFK's belief that we as a people have a critical role to play in the welfare of our nation.
Let us hope that as Townsend continues her father's commitment to public service, the American people will rediscover that they, too,can play an active role in the formation of American public policy or as RFK stated, "do something for [their] country."
David M. Huff
Correction: In Roger Carstens's July 15 Opinion piece, "No guns in the cockpit," the correct name of the organization he mentioned is the Violence Policy Center.
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