ITLA: No doctor shortage

The Madison County Record Feb. 14, 2011, 10:00am

To the Editor:

A recent article in your paper "State faces doctor shortage in coming years, ISMS president warns" misleads your readers.

Regrettably, the quoted Dr. Malkin draws false conclusions from incomplete factual representations.

Dr. Malkin has chosen to ignore certain well known facts when it comes to medical care access in this state. Over the years, we have consistently increased the number of physicians in our state. Funny, it used to be, for years, the Illinois State Medical Society (ISMS) - for whom Dr. Malkin speaks - would falsely claim doctors were fleeing our state and that we already had a shortage of doctors. As the data has failed to support that claim, the dialogue now shifts to an attempt to create a "future crisis." In fact, a recent survey - funded in part by ISMS - clearly demonstrated oversaturation of physicians in the largest populated area of our state. That's right. More than enough.

This myth of doctor flight and doctor shortage has been around for a long time – fabricated by the Illinois State Medical Society and its insurer - but the hard evidence proves otherwise. There has never been a decline of doctors in Illinois for 45 years, according to the American Medical Association.

Malkin claims that the weather, malpractice lawsuits and reimbursements are to blame for doctors not wanting to set up shop in our state. Some may agree that the weather is not as attractive as one might prefer when considering where to practice. However, the claim that the malpractice lawsuit climate results in physicians lacking interest in practicing in (his example) Hillsboro, Illinois would be laughable if it weren't so potentially damaging to people's rights.

Dr. Malkin tried to tie malpractice suits to an inability to attract physicians to the Hillsboro area. According to the Montgomery County (Hillsboro) Court Clerk's office there has only been 1 or 2 medical cases filed per year over the last 10 years. In 2010, one case was filed involving a physician's care.

There is no excuse for doctors having to pay high insurance premiums around Hillsboro. Those doctors should not be interested in malpractice lawsuit reform. They should be clamoring for insurance reform.

It's unfortunate that Dr. Malkin and your paper would allow such a misleading and false impression to be left with your readers, and doing so without carefully checking the facts.

Todd A. Smith
Illinois Trial Lawyers Association

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