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Insurance carrier's pullout leaves doctors high and dry

By By Steve Gillespie/The Meridian Star
Dec. 14, 2001
R. Scott Anderson is one of 425 Mississippi doctors scrambling for medical malpractice insurance because his carrier is pulling out of the state.
The St. Paul Companies Inc., one of the top three providers of medical liability insurance in Mississippi, announced this week that it will stop writing new policies in Mississippi and will not renew existing coverage.
Anderson is dismayed by the decision.
Anderson and representatives of the Mississippi State Medical Association say large settlements and a growing number of "frivolous" lawsuits are to blame.
Shep Montgomery, spokesman for the Mississippi Insurance Department, said 26 companies offer some form of medical liability insurance in Mississippi but only seven write medical liability coverage for physicians and surgeons.
Anderson, a radiation oncologist in Meridian, said his policy expired Dec. 1.
Anderson said no one has ever filed a malpractice case against him. Even so, he paid $40,000 in insurance premiums last year.
Among the doctors considered high-risk for medical malpractice lawsuits are obstetricians, gynecologists, emergency room doctors and general surgeons.
Anderson has been an outspoken proponent of tort reform, participating in a lobbying effort by the Mississippi State Medical Association for caps on punitive damage awards.
Anderson said malpractice insurance is becoming a large percentage of the cost of running a medical office.
Steve Gillespie is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call him at 693-1551, ext. 3233, or e-mail him at sgillespie@themeridianstar.com.

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