Four Washington County, Md., doctors have agreed to delay indefinitely their plan to halt nonemergency surgery to protest a 33% increase in medical malpractice insurance premiums.
After a meeting with Gov. Robert Ehrlich Jr. last week, the doctors said they would ask other doctors at Washington County Hospital to follow their lead to give the governor and General Assembly leaders time to seek a legislative solution to the rapid increase in premiums they say has produced a healthcare crisis in Maryland.
"The governor has asked us to stay at work. We have heard him," said Dino Delaportas, M.D., chief of staff at the hospital.
The halt to nonemergency surgery for two weeks was scheduled to begin Nov. 15, affecting procedures such as hernia repair, breast biopsies and colonoscopies. Karl Riggle, M.D., chief of surgery, said he thought other doctors on the hospital staff would agree to delay the limitation on surgery.
Ehrlich and legislative leaders have considered calling a special session of the General Assembly to deal with the problem but have not been able to reach a solution.
Ehrlich and Maryland House Speaker Michael Busch want to hold down the cost of settling malpractice claims in court. State Senate President Thomas Miller opposes caps on malpractice payments and is drafting legislation to deal with the short-term problem.