St. Petersburg Times Online: News of Florida
Place an Ad Calendars Classified Forums Sports Weather
  • Delays in death row case irk governor
  • Judge overturns verdict against gun distributor
  • Super Bowl XXXVII: Only Floridians saw pitch on glories of state's citrus
  • Churches may push mentoring
  • 1 killed in plane crash; 3 missing
  • More than 800 doctors skip work to decry insurance rates
  • Senators hand in budgetary wish lists
  • Around the state: Teen's trial in fatal beating will be moved to Pinellas
  • Board accepts Bush's intervention
  • Ex-police officer in Jacksonville gets life in slaying

  • From the state wire

  • Hurricane Jeanne appears on track to hit Florida's east coast
  • Rumor mill working overtime after Florida hurricanes
  • Developments associated with Hurricanes Ivan and Jeanne
  • Four killed in Panhandle plane crash were on Ivan charity mission
  • Hurricane Frances caused estimated $4.4 billion in insured damage
  • Disabled want more handicapped-accessible voting machines
  • USF forces administrators to resign over test score changes
  • Man's death at Universal Studios ruled accidental
  • State child welfare workers in Miami fail to do background checks
  • Hurricane Jeanne heads toward southeast U.S. coast
  • Hurricane Jeanne spurs more anxiety for storm-weary Floridians
  • Mistrial declared in case where teen was target of racial "joke"
  • Panhandle utility wants sewer plant moved to higher ground
  • State employee arrested on theft, bribery charges
  • Homestead house fire kills four children, one adult
  • Pierson leader tries to cut off relief to local fern cutters
  • Florida's high court rules Terri's law unconstitutional
  • Jacksonville students punished for putting stripper pole in dorm
  • FEMA handling nearly 600,000 applications for help
  • Man who killed wife, niece, self also killed mother in 1971
  • Producer sues city over lead ball fired by Miami police
  • Tourism suffers across Florida after pummeling by hurricanes
  • Key dates in the life of Terri Schiavo
  • An excerpt from the unanimous ruling in the Schiavo case
  • Four confirmed dead after small plane crash in Panhandle
  • Correction: Disney-Cruise Line story

    printer version

    More than 800 doctors skip work to decry insurance rates

    As they object to malpractice rates, a patient advocacy group protests proposed caps on damage awards.

    ©Associated Press
    January 28, 2003

    WEST PALM BEACH -- More than 800 doctors, primarily from Palm Beach County, walked off the job Monday to protest rising malpractice insurance rates that they say are driving doctors out of work and threatening patient care.

    Instead of working, the doctors are attending a two-day conference looking at the problem. They were mostly from Palm Beach County, but some also came from Broward, Martin and St. Lucie counties.

    Meanwhile, a patient advocacy group staged a separate protest, claiming that a proposed cap on malpractice damage awards provides no justice for victims of negligent doctors.

    U.S. Rep. Mark Foley, R-West Palm Beach, said patients will continue to suffer if more doctors are forced to leave the state or retire early because high insurance rates make it impossible to continue practicing. Foley said he plans to push a House bill that would limit malpractice costs to doctors and cap awards.

    Palm Beach hospitals prepared for the doctors' absence by beefing up emergency room staffs, rescheduling elective surgeries and reducing operating room staffs. There were no reports of problems Monday. Doctors rescheduled appointments.

    A task force appointed by Gov. Jeb Bush voted to recommend this month that jury awards for punitive damages and pain-and-suffering awards in malpractice cases be capped at $250,000.

    Bush said Monday that heightening awareness of the issue was important.

    "The quality of care for Floridians will be diminished if we don't deal with medical malpractice reform," Bush said.

    Victims of medical malpractice, though, say the industry can't put a cap on the value of someone's health or life.

    Wayne Portch, 56, said he lost both legs below the knee and parts of four fingers after two doctors failed to diagnose an infection over four days. He and his wife, Paula, say they're looking for accountability.

    "This isn't about the good doctors. This is about the bad doctors," Paula Portch said. "Our whole life has changed. Should this be allowed to go on?"

    Doctors say they don't want to remove accountability and want to continue to examine how they can reduce errors and negligence. But they say the system must be fixed, pointing to insurance rates that for some specialists have increased as much as 300 percent in one year.

    Back to State news
    Back to Top

    © 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
    490 First Avenue South • St. Petersburg, FL 33701 • 727-893-8111
    Special Links
    Lucy Morgan

    From the Times state desk