Malpractice Insurance

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Doctors in several states have walked off the job, out of hospitals and operating rooms, in protest over the high cost of malpractice insurance.

Over the past ten years, the cost of malpractice insurance has doubled and even tripled in some parts of the nation. Some say it's close to reaching crisis levels in Illinois.

Doctor Richard Field has delivered thousands of babies to Rockford mothers, and in his risky profession, the high cost of malpractice insurance is a growing concern.

"The medical malpractice climate in which we live has gotten out of hand. The awards have gotten out of hand. I have many colleagues who are on the verge that if it gets a little higher they're going to go practice elsewhere,” says Dr. Fields.

Insurance rates have skyrocketed in recent years, costing stateline doctors as much as $80,000 a year. Dr. Field says Illinois is one of the worst states for malpractice suits.

"Because of the great number of suits brought forth and the number of awards. Because we don't have caps (in Illinois) and the awards are higher than in other states,” explains Fields.

A remedy doesn't appear to be in sight and field says eventually doctors will leave for states with more protection or insurance companies will no longer cover risky specialties.

"The system is broken with respect to medical malpractice and something has to change drastically,” Dr. Fields comments.

The Illinois legislature has passed some reforms to limit the monetary awards in malpractice suits, however, the Illinois Supreme Court overturned the laws ruling that citizens should have full access to the system and no limitations should be placed on judges or jurors when it comes to financial penalties.

Last year Illinois ranked only behind New York in the number of medical malpractice lawsuits and the number of financial awards. Dr. Field says reform for Illinois doctors will likely have to come from the federal level.