Did Atlas shrug today in WV? And will "Sheets" Byrd burn a cross on the Docs' lawns..


January 3, 2003, 03:15 AM
..in order to scare them back to work?


CHARLESTON, W.Va. — State officials called on two dozen West Virginia surgeons Thursday to end their walkout over malpractice costs as four hospitals cut staff hours and transferred more patients.

So far, five patients have had to be sent elsewhere because of the dispute. Two were sent by the Weirton Medical Center across the state line Thursday to a nearby Ohio hospital. Two from Wheeling Hospital were taken Wednesday to Pittsburgh hospitals, about an hour's drive away, and another was sent to a hospital in Morgantown Thursday.

Only one of the patients -- who was taken 90 miles from Wheeling to Morgantown -- needed emergency surgery.

Gov. Bob Wise will unveil malpractice legislation next week that has been months in the making, Health and Human Resources Secretary Paul Nusbaum said.

"Six days before our announcement is not the time to go and [walk out]," Nusbaum said. "I urge the physicians to give us time to fix this."

A group of Wheeling-area surgeons met with Wise and other state officials in Charleston for two hours Thursday afternoon.

Dr. David Ghaphery told Charleston's WOWK-TV that some doctors left the meeting ready to return to work, with the understanding that the Legislature would act once the next session begins Jan. 8. The doctors returned to Wheeling Thursday night to plan their next move, he said.

Health officials assured residents that state emergency medical personnel were on alert to help transfer patients and they unveiled a toll-free number for patients who need help with physician referrals.

The surgeons in Wheeling and Weirton began 30-day leaves of absence Wednesday or planned to begin leaves in the next few days. The surgeons say the state has ignored calls to help lower skyrocketing malpractice insurance premiums, a complaint aired by doctors in other states.

All four affected hospitals are keeping emergency rooms open. But except for plastic surgeons, they have almost no emergency surgeons available. Wheeling Hospital said it temporarily reinstated one of the surgeons on leave to work on a patient too ill to be transferred. It released no details.

The four hospitals also began reducing shifts of operating room nurses and other surgical support staff.

"It's definitely generating worries within our staff, both about their own financial needs and about the health of the community," said Howard Gamble, spokesman for Ohio Valley Medical Center in Wheeling.

Dr. William Ramsey, director of the Office of Emergency Medical Services, said no additional ambulances, helicopters or crews have been needed during the walkout's first two days.

The surgeons want the state to make it harder to file malpractice lawsuits, which they say would eventually lower their premiums. They also want the state to seek help from insurance companies and other third parties to pay a larger share of their costs.

Parkersburg-area doctors will consider a walkout during a meeting of the state medical association next week, said Dr. David Avery, a Parkersburg family practitioner and former association president.

"I'm afraid this is just the first bit," Avery said. "If the governor and the Legislature don't act, this will be spread quickly across the state -- and it will be all physicians, not just surgeons."

Michael Roberts, a surgeon at two Parkersburg hospitals, said Thursday there was "a good chance" the five surgeons at those facilities would stage a walkout in two weeks.

"We are basically in the same situation as the people in Wheeling," he said, adding that his malpractice insurance rates have jumped 140 percent. "We just can't keep up with the rising costs."

I think that the Doctors walking out is the best thing they could have done. I'm sick to death of the "Let's sue!" mentality, and all of the unecessary expense that it adds to everything. :cuss: :banghead: :fire: :scrutiny:

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January 3, 2003, 05:49 AM
I wonder if there is something in their strategy we as shooters could use?

January 3, 2003, 07:24 AM
These Doctors are unprofessional.

2nd Amendment
January 3, 2003, 10:41 AM
The doctors are unprofessional? Perhaps, but you realize most of the outrageous cost of medical care in the US is because of outrageous insurance rates forced, or justified anyway) by outrageous lawsuits? We wouldn't have a problem paying for our medical needs if a few people hadn't figured out they could get rich over nothing and found a few attorneys who figured out they could ALL make a living at it.

January 3, 2003, 10:58 AM
If the local ditch-diggers unite to demand better working conditions, it's a union. If doctors do that--or even discuss fees among themselves, or meet to agree on terms for HMO contracts--it's racketeering, punishable under RICO.

If you leave us with no way out, you deserve what you get. Why should I have t risk financial ruin to take care of you? Do my children deserve to eat less than a patient's or lawyer's?

Has anyone gone without emergency care? No. One of the surgeons even came back from his 'leave' to treat a patient who couldn't be transferred.

West Va. is notorious as 'tort hell'. Lawyers scramble to have cases heard there because they can get whopping judgements. Insurers naturally charge high premiums because of the greater exposure...not that I have lots of sympathy for them, but what do you expect?

I've been sued once in my career: for botching a procedure that I never did. It took two years and lots of attorney fees (for both sides, natch) before it was comcluded that I couldn't have screwed up something I never did in the first place.

W.Va. juries and lawyers are now reaping their reward. Enjoy your trips to Ohio, folks!

January 3, 2003, 11:28 AM
I thought about Atlas Shrugged when I first heard of this story too.

January 3, 2003, 11:33 AM
"If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it's free." -P.J. O'Rourke-

January 3, 2003, 03:51 PM
threads on this topic tend to get hot, as seen in my last comment.

But the 'unprofessional' remark got me thinking....this problem has been bad and getting worse for over 20 years, and this is the FIRST time we've seen a walkout. I guess I'd say that what has kept it from happening all these years is that Docs are very professional. Believe me, if it were all about money, no Medicare patient would have a doctor. I lose money on MC patients, as do most of us. They are charity cases, and charity is what keeps us from walking away from them. But working just to enrich lawers? Not worth it.

Now there's no denying that there a poor docs who do people harm. But is it anywhere near as many as all these suits would make it appear? All our patients would be dead. How many times have I talked with colleagues who were sued by patients who had no problems with them, and hadn't realy been harmed, but who tell their doctor "Sorry, Doc...nothing personal, you know...it's just business."

Well, now they're hearing the same thing back. Just a pity it had to come to this!

January 4, 2003, 03:24 PM
These Doctors are unprofessional.Yeah, it would be much more professional to go out of business and no longer be able to practice medicine. :rolleyes: :cuss: :banghead:

Baba Louie
January 4, 2003, 03:34 PM
Happened here in Las Vegas recently as well.

Its about time Atlas Shrugged.

Certainly an attention getter, neh?


Don Gwinn
January 4, 2003, 08:51 PM
One guy on the Today Show claimed he paid $74,000 this year alone for medical insurance, and that he'd had to take out a huge loan to do it. He claims he expects it to go to just a shade under $100,000 this year. Damn rich doctors!

I'm not a doctor, but my family was sued by a man we had thought was our friend. He told us the same thing. "It's nothing personal, I just want to get paid." I understand your frustration.

(This guy had borrowed my mother's car and--I am not making this up--crashed it into a cow at almost 60 mph. Then he sued us and by extension our insurance company for injuries he claimed to have sustained while he was driving! )

January 4, 2003, 10:29 PM
Had a doctor in Houston once who had a sign in his office: "I can't afford malpractice insurance and everything I have is owned by a corporation, so don't bother suing me". He said it worked pretty good. Lawyers called, verified, and he would never hear from them again.

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