Today's News

Thursday, March 11, 2004

AAOS leads campaign for medical liability reform

By Mary Ann Porucznik

The American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) is taking a leadership role in the battle to achieve medical liability reform. On both a grassroots and a national level, the AAOS is showing the way, educating patients and empowering both patients and physicians to pressure lawmakers for reform.

Grassroot efforts

On a grassroots level, there is the Protect Access to Care and Treatment (PACT) Project. With striking visuals and a powerful message, the PACT Project tells the truth about the impact the liability crisis is having on patient access to care. This multi-faceted campaign includes:

For more information on the PACT project, see the related article in this section.

State efforts

The AAOS is also making a concerted effort to support state orthopaedic societies lobbying for changes in state medical liability laws. The effort kicked off with an educational meeting last fall for state society leaders, which offered media training, provided core campaign messages and introduced state orthopaedic leaders to online advocacy and recruitment tools.

In addition, the AAOS Medical Liability Reform Campaign is providing grant monies to states to help fund their campaigns to pass medical liability reform at the state level. State orthopaedic societies submit detailed applications, which are reviewed by a committee. Approved applications are funded based on the likelihood of success. Since last falls, grant monies have been awarded to Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Texas. Direct assistance is being provided in Missouri and Pennsylvania. A related article in this section has more information on state orthopaedic society efforts and grants.

National campaign

The AAOS also was a founding member of the multi-specialty coalition Doctors for Medical Liability Reform (DMLR). This coalition represents more than 230,000 specialty physicians, many of whom have been personally affected by the increasing cost and declining availability of medical liability insurance coverage.

DMLR exists to promote passage of federal medical liability reform legislation that includes a cap on noneconomic damages awarded in medical liability cases. This legislation will not limit economic compensation awarded for lost income, inability to work, long-term care or medical expenses.

Unveiled at press conferences in Washington, D.C., in Charlotte and Raleigh, N.C., and in Seattle, Wash., on Feb. 10, the DMLR campaign Protect Patients Now will focus attentionon individual states in crisis, beginning with North Carolina and Washington. A 30-minute television newsmagazine program has been developed for each state, using physicians, patients, public officials and concerned citizens to tell the true story of the crisis.

In addition, a Web site, (www.protectpatientsnow.org) has been developed to enable the public, patients, physicians and the media to access a state-by-state analysis, a synposis of the isues, breaking news, up-to-the-minute headlines and avenues for involvement. For more information on the national campaign, see the related article in this section.

Here and now

While at the Annual Meeting, stop by the Medical Liability Reform Campaign booth, located in Moscone West near the registration area. Show your support for the campaign by signing the nine-foot cast symbolizing the need for a solution to the "broken" health care system. Take time to explore the Web sites and to talk to others who are involved in this effort on various levels. Sign up for e-mail alerts and Washington Updates to stay informed on the progress of both state and federal legislation. Finally, pull out your checkbook and make your own commitment to this effort.

Medical liability reform can become a reality, not only for individual states, but for the nation. Join the campaign today.

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Last modified 01/March/2004