March 04, 2009

Liability limits save access to care

Proven medical liability reforms, including a cap on noneconomic damages, are working to keep Maryland physicians caring for patients while still allowing injured patients access to the court system. In fact, as the column from the president of the Maryland trial lawyers association suggests, about the only people complaining are trial lawyers ("Time to treat malpractice victims fairly," Feb. 27).

In states without such reforms, many cases result in runaway jury awards for noneconomic damages. Yet a recent Harvard University study shows that 40 percent of malpractice cases involve no medical error.

Since the 2004 action by the Maryland legislature, premiums have stabilized and high-risk specialty physicians have decided to stay in Maryland, giving patients greater access to care.

The American Medical Association urges that this progress not be reversed. Dr. Nancy H. Nielsen, Chicago

The writer is president of the American Medical Association.

Nurse practitioners part of the solution

The article "Goodbye, country doctors" (March 1) brings to our attention the physician shortage that is expected to deepen in Maryland as up to 32 percent of our physicians retire by 2015.

Today, Maryland has 16 percent fewer practicing physicians per capita than the national average, and the shortage is particularly acute in primary care and emergency medicine and in several other specialties.

I attended the MedChi rally in Annapolis on Feb.18 and heard speaker after speaker explain how high malpractice insurance rates and low reimbursement rates were driving them out of practice. I was with a small group of nurse practitioners who were there to support the physicians and to call for action to keep care providers in Maryland.

Our message was that nurse practitioners can be part of the solution.

With state and federal governments working to provide health coverage for the uninsured, all turf battles must be put aside as care professionals work together to provide access to care.

Sandra Nettina, West Friendship

The writer is president-elect of the Nurse Practitioner Association of Maryland.

Do the media fear Jindal's message?

If I had doubts about Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, which I did following the tortured start to his rebuttal to President Barack Obama's address, I am now convinced that he has a bright future and is a rising star for the GOP.

Why, you ask? Because The Baltimore Sun in its editorial pages has begun to "Palin" him in an attempt to minimize his credibility ("Ready for prime time," March 1).

Maybe the mainstream media are a little nervous about an appealing young conservative cleaning up the mess in his state left by decades of Democratic corruption and incompetence.

Kevin Bresnahan, Ocean City

Let public know pay of nation's CEOs

Jay Hancock's column about Constellation Energy and its CEO was enlightening, and having read this piece, I question Constellation CEO Mayo A. Shattuck III's leadership even more strongly ("Dubious record, high praise for Shattuck," Feb. 21).

One issue I wish Mr. Hancock had covered is the salary history of Mr. Shattuck and the payments board members receive.

I am outraged by the exorbitant sums that are paid to CEOs and to upper management in the United States.

It would be a great service if The Baltimore Sun were to summarize the salaries and benefits paid to the top 100 CEOs in the nation.

People need to have facts to be able to protest and effect change.

Susan W. Talbott, Baltimore

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