Emergency Physicians Want Liability Protections

The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) is urging the Senate to pass legislation providing liability protections for physicians who deliver emergency and trauma services.

J. Brian Hancock, MD, president of ACEP, said passage of the Pregnancy and Trauma Care Access Act of 2004 (S.2207) is particularly important because "frivolous lawsuits and excessive awards are resulting in sky-high premiums and forcing many physicians to retire early, move to states with lower premiums, or stop performing high-risk procedures."

He pointed out that when medical specialists are not available or when emergency departments and trauma centers close, patients lose access to lifesaving emergency medical care.

In addition to lobbying for passage of the legislation, ACEP is launching a Critical Alert Campaign, a public education campaign to inform patients about the medical liability crisis and ask for their support in sharing their challenges in accessing medical care and contacting their senators. Emergency departments across the United States will receive a poster and brochures for distribution in waiting rooms.

"In some states, patients are increasingly being transported out of state for medical care, which can mean life or death for some patients when time is of the essence," said Hancock. "The problem will not go away on its own. The U.S. Senate must focus on fixing America's broken liability system."

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