February 2004 Bulletin

Update on AAOS Medical Liability Reform Campaign

By Stuart L. Weinstein, MD

As chair of the AAOS Medical Liability Reform Spending Oversight Committee, I am delighted to provide the fellowship with an update on our activities to educate the public and our patients on the need for tort reform. With about $1.98 million raised in 2003, we have engaged in an ambitious, multi-faceted approach, both at the federal and state level, that will continue up until the Congressional elections in Nov. 2004.

DMLR to launch national campaign
After more than eight months of intensive planning, Doctors for Medical Liability Reform (DMLR), of which AAOS is an active participate and co-chair, is poised to launch a hard-hitting national campaign. Joining with other high-risk specialties, and playing a leadership role, the AAOS has been planning a multi-million dollar national public education initiative to promote medical liability reform.

By the time this article is published, we will have shared with the fellowship via e-mail and AAOS Headline News, all aspects of this effort. Stay tuned for further developments. I believe you will be pleased about our activities and how your money was spent.

Communications

Currently, a multi-pronged grassroots program is underway as a demonstration project in both Missouri and Pennsylvania. These efforts are unique to each of these states and include media activities, online information, PowerPoint presentations, posters and pamphlets.

These activities serve as prototypes for implementation in other states as well. In addition, the campaign’s Web page is now fully operational and contains additional material about this state grassroots approach.

State grants program
The AAOS Medical Liability Reform Campaign has made six grants totaling $183,500 to help state orthopaedic societies in their own individual public education campaigns. These grants went to: Mississippi, $37,500; Georgia, $20,000; Pennsylvania, $10,000; New Jersey, $9,000; Florida, $32,000; and Texas, $75,000.

Our ability to provide more money to the states will be totally dependent on our fundraising efforts during 2004.

Campaign booth at Annual Meeting
Please visit the AAOS Medical Liability Reform Campaign booth at the Annual Meeting in San Francisco. It will be located in the Convention Center in Moscone West just outside of the registration area. At the booth, you will be able to use a computer to visit both the state and federal Web sites created to inform patients about this medical liability reform effort. There will also be videos highlighting some of the state and federal campaign initiatives. All of the national and state print advertisements will also be displayed, as well as a state advocacy “toolkit” for physicians.

Highlighting the exhibit will be a nine-foot tall cast symbolizing the need for a solution to the “broken” healthcare system. The cast was introduced at the State Societies Strategy Meeting held last fall and then placed on display in the Academy’s headquarters building in Rosemont, Ill. Over the past few months, hundreds of orthopaedic surgeons and other concerned individuals have signed the cast to demonstrate their support for reform. I hope that you will visit the booth and add your signature to the cast as well.

Look for the April issue of the Bulletin, where we will provide much more information about the federal campaign. Also visit the DMLR web site at http://ProtectPatientsNow.org. In the meantime, I will unveil the national campaign during the opening ceremonies of the Annual Meeting on Wednesday, March 10, in the Gateway Ballroom of the Moscone Convention Center at 4 p.m. Medical liability reform will be a topic of discussion during the Town Hall meeting on Thursday, March 11. In addition, there will be a symposium on tort reform in the Gateway Ballroom from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday, March 12. Thank you for your continued participation and support.

Stuart L. Weinstein, MD, is second vice president of the AAOS and chair of the Medical Liability Reform Campaign Oversight Committee. He can be reached at stuart-weinstein@uiowa.edu.


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