Donald Palmisano and Yank Coble

Donald Palmisano, president of the American Medical Association, and Yank Coble , his immediate predecessor, were Tuesday's guests. Here are excerpts from their remarks:

On the need for medical liability reform:

(Palmisano) "It doesn't matter if you have health insurance. It doesn't matter if you have a prescription-drug benefit, if you can't find a physician.... Our [healthcare] system is being destroyed by a broken medical liability system."

On those most affected:

(Coble) "Those who get sued the most ... are those who take care of the complicated neurosurgical, obstetrical, orthopedic cases."

On the July 9 senate vote not to take up liability reform:

(Palmisano) "Last week a minority of senators thwarted the will of the American public. Poll after poll shows that the public is in favor of medical liability reform - caps on noneconomic damages."

On whether the issue of liability reform is lost for 2003:

(Palmisano) "We don't see it dead for this year. We think the ... public will demand that this issue come up again. We believe it may come up again in the fall."

On reports that up to 98,000 deaths are caused by medical injuries each year:

(Palmisano) "We don't believe that is an accurate number.... The American Medical Association position is: One error is one error too many. What we need to do is say, 'How can we prevent another error from occurring?' Errors do occur in medicine, and we have to admit that."

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