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More MS news articles for June 2003

Patients Lose Access to Neurological Care

Liability issues have forced neurologists to make hard choices about their practices, according to the results of a Professional Medical Liability Survey recently completed by the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Neurology

http://www.newswise.com/articles/2003/6/LIABILIT.AAN.html

June 3, 2003
American Academy of Neurology (AAN)
ST. Paul, MN

Liability issues have forced neurologists to make hard choices about their practices, according to the results of a Professional Medical Liability Survey recently completed by the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Neurology.

Turning down complex cases, discontinuing certain services or no longer seeing patients: the practice of neurology is changing rapidly, say officials with the American Academy of Neurology, which surveyed the 403 neurologists who participated in the study.

"The medical liability survey findings are evidence that legislative reform is necessary for preserving patient access to neurological care," says Catherine M. Rydell, executive director and CEO of the American Academy of Neurology.

The survey showed that among the 199 neurologists who have made at least one change in their practices over the last two years:

* More than 51 percent have begun referring complex cases instead of treating them. When asked how important professional liability pressures were in making the decision to refer, 91 percent said they were "somewhat" to "very" important.

* More than 33 percent have stopped providing certain services. When asked how important professional liability pressures were in making that decision, 84 percent said they were "somewhat" to "very" important.

* More than 11 percent are no longer treating patients. When asked how important professional liability pressures were in their decision to stop providing patient care, 75 percent said they were "somewhat" to "very" important.

Reasons cited for changing insurance companies within the last two years were insurance premium increases and insurance companies' failure or withdrawal from the market.

Medical liability insurance premiums are soaring to the highest rates since the mid-1980s. Neurologists' mean annual premium for professional medical liability insurance coverage in 2002 was $13,800, compared with $10,200 just a year earlier.

The results indicate that neurologists and patients alike are facing a medical liability crisis. The current medical liability system could impact the practice of neurology, where some lawsuits result in a small percentage of patients receiving awards while others find it more difficult to access care.

The American Academy of Neurology supports the Health Act of 2003, passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in March, according to Rydell, because it prevents further patient loss of access to medical care.

The American Academy of Neurology, an association of more than 18,000 neurologists and neuroscience professionals, is dedicated to improving patient care through education and research. A neurologist is a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system such as stroke, Alzheimer's disease, epilepsy, Parkinson's disease, autism and multiple sclerosis.

For more information about the American Academy of Neurology, visit its web site at www.aan.com.
 

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