Increasing Malpractice Insurance Has Some Illinois Doctors Leaving State

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Longtime Sycamore internal medicine physician Paul Stromborg is seeing his medical brethren leave in alarming numbers.

"We are all part of this community. We want to have the specialists to be able to take care of patients. We don't want to ship somebody to somewhere else," Stromborg said.

In the last few months, DeKalb County obstetric doctors dwindled by 50 percent, from 14 to seven. Skyrocketing malpractice medical insurance costs are forcing some Illinois doctors to move to surrounding states.

"We're very interested in making sure that if there is a problem in malpractice, that they are appropriately awarded, but right now for some people, it's like winning the lottery," Stromborg said.

The state's malpractice insurance issue is also affecting DeKalb County's public aid doctors. With fixed state funds and rising insurance costs, some practices are in danger of extinction.

"We're not making money. It's quite simple. It's like any other business; you can't stay afloat if you're not making money," Joseph Baumgart said.

Illinois doctors want to enforce a maximum awarded in malpractice settlements, a policy already in place in Wisconsin and 27 other states. Stromborg says without this cap, premiums will continue increasing, which he believes will push more state doctors out and scare away younger doctors.

"If you are a gynecologist, you'd be nuts to practice in Illinois coming out of school when you consider the costs in malpractice insurance," Stromborg said.

They are costs which doctors say are forcing their colleagues out of state and leaving we patients with potentially less medical care in our communities.