Doctors and nurses protest attacks on malpractice reform |

Doctors and nurses protest attacks on malpractice reform

Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal Nevada Secretary of State Dean Heller, left, talks with Carson City Dr. Jim Colgan during a protest in front of the Nevada Supreme Court in Carson City, on Tuesday. Other supporters, in back from left, are Angela Fluitt, Kristy Swirczek and Glenda Monteleone.

More than 100 doctors, hospital and medical personnel and their families gathered outside the Nevada Supreme Court on Tuesday to draw attention to their fight to keep Question 3 on the November ballot.

“Seventy-seven thousand voters in this state signed the petition,” said Carson City Dr. Michael Fischer, head of the state medical association. “The trial lawyers are trying every stalling tactic to keep this off the ballot.”

Sandra Koch, president of the Carson-Douglas Medical Society, said the purpose of Question 3 is to “help us keep practicing medicine in Nevada.”

Koch said medical malpractice insurance in her specialty – obstetrics and gynecology – now costs as much as $150,000 a year. She said insurance costs are forcing many physicians to leave Nevada for other states where there are better caps on pain and suffering awards in lawsuits. She said without reform in Nevada, it is becoming harder and harder to stay in business and provide quality care to patients.

“In the current environment of torts, (lawsuits) efforts to improve the system are pushed under ground,” she said. “We need reform so we can get back to providing medical care.”

She said other states which have adequate caps on lawsuits have more doctors per capita than Nevada. She said in any event, the people should be allowed to vote on whether they agree with Question 3, and that it shouldn’t be decided by the trial lawyers and Supreme Court.

Koch and Fischer made the statements surrounded by other physicians carrying signs, including one which urged “Recall the six justices who sold out to their trial lawyers” – a reference to the majority vote directing Secretary of State Dean Heller to re-write the ballot language for Question 3 this past weekend to match demands by the lawyers group.

Another sign said, “Shakespeare was right: First thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers,” a quote from the play “King Lear.”

Koch said Nevadans should get to vote on the issue but that the final answer may be federal legislation limiting malpractice damages, which the Bush administration supports but has yet to get through Congress.