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Physicians to pay up to $100,000 to hire

September 25, 2004|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

Local physicians will pay a public relations firm up to $100,000 to educate the public and elected officials about the costs and effects of medical malpractice insurance, Washington County Hospital's chief of staff said Friday.

Dr. Dino J. Delaportas said the medical staff authorized the expenditure at Thursday's quarterly business meeting at Fountain Head Country Club.

The public relations campaign will cover more monetary issues. For example, hospital stays are longer than necessary and diagnostic testing is overused because doctors are afraid of being sued, Delaportas said.

"I don't think there's one doctor you could talk to that would deny that," Delaportas said.

Another side effect is a potentially dangerous overuse of antibiotics, he said.

Delaportas said Gov. Robert Ehrlich seems to understand the various facets of the complex issue, but many legislators don't.

Many physicians announced Thursday that, because of rapidly rising medical malpractice insurance costs, they will stop handling nonemergency cases starting Nov. 15.

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More than 100 physicians, or more than half the staff at Washington County Hospital, have joined the slowdown, said Dr. Karl Riggle, the chairman of the Washington County Malpractice Crisis Task Force.

When it meets next week, the task force likely will discuss which public relations firm to hire, Delaportas said.

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