Total operating costs for orthopedic practices jumped 12.3% in 2002, fueled by higher salaries and large increases in medical malpractice insurance premiums, according to a new survey by the Medical Group Management Association, Englewood, Colo. Professional liability insurance rose 26% per full-time-equivalent physician, while staffing costs increased about 8% from 2001 through 2002, the study said. "Malpractice costs are increasing at an unpredictable rate," said Marilyn Orr, a member of the MGMA's Orthopedic Practices Ad Hoc Survey Committee and administrator at Dover (Ohio) Orthopaedic Center. "Physicians are trying to protect themselves by hiring more nonphysician providers and other more highly trained -- and higher paid -- staff with the expectation that they are less likely to make mistakes." The report includes information on 138 group practices. -- by Michael Romano
Orthopedic practice costs rise, liability cited
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