Saying "we have a crisis in our country," Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) announced that he will hold hearings on reforming malpractice liability laws. No timetable was given. Hatch said he hoped to craft legislation to minimize unnecessary litigation while holding doctors accountable for egregious errors. Since summer doctors in several states, including yesterday in New Jersey, have staged work stoppages and other protests against rising medical malpractice insurance rates. Specialists, in particular, have complained that insurance rates are so prohibitively high they may be forced to move to states in which costs are lower or leave their profession altogether. Hatch said insurance companies may share part of the blame for rising rates but contended that frivolous lawsuits and massive jury awards are the main culprits. -- by Tony Fong
Hatch to hold malpractice reform hearings
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