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Physician’s suggestion to deny care is appalling

Doctors should be following the Hippocratic Oath, essentially to first do no harm. Yet, in his July 27 Another Voice column, Matthew Phillips, M.D., argues that since a local doctor lost a medical malpractice lawsuit, doctors should consider not providing care to needy insurance company staff or lawyers and even consider a work stoppage.

He builds his case for denying needy patients health care by arguing that a “respected” surgeon’s loss in a malpractice case threatens access to health care. However, he offers no information on what can only be a devastating injury to that doctor’s patient.

So what are the facts? Well, for one, recent estimates have concluded that between 200,000 and 400,000 American hospital patients are killed each year due to substandard medical care. That translates into roughly 32 to 65 New York hospital patients being killed each day! That stunning statistic must be the focus of any malpractice reform effort, since reducing unnecessary injuries and deaths will reduce malpractice lawsuits.

Reasonable people can discuss how to reform the malpractice insurance system. Concerned New York policymakers must discuss how to reduce the shocking level of unnecessary injuries and death caused by bad medical care. But no doctor should deny patients access to care simply to make a political point. After all, the duty of every physician is to first do no harm.

Blair Horner

Legislative Director, New York

Public Interest Research Group