Are doctors leaving Georgia?

As many as 195,000 people are killed by medical errors each year, according to health care consulting firm HealthGrades Inc. Even so, providing safer care for patients in doctors’ offices, hospitals and nursing homes is not a priority for many of our state leaders or the health care industry.

Instead, powerful insurance and medical lobbyists want to limit compensation for patients injured by negligent or abusive care. This so-called “tort reform” puts profits above patient safety, even while Georgians continue to suffer from careless medical errors. They say they want to lower malpractice premiums because doctors are fleeing the state – a claim that simply is not true.

In 2003, Georgia boasted 38 percent more physicians than it had in 1994, according to the State Medical Board. During the same period, Georgia’s population grew only 23 percent, according to the U.S. Census.

Guaranteeing safer health care for Georgia patients must be at the heart of any health care reform.