Governor-Elect Dino Rossi, Transition Office, State of Washington

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Forward Washington REFORM THREE:

Stop driving health care providers out of the state by protecting them from bad lawsuits.

Hard Facts:

  • Since 1998, there has been a 31 percent increase in the number of doctors moving out of state.
  • A full 45 percent of physicians have reduced or eliminated high-risk services to avoid unaffordable liability insurance increases.
  • An estimated 2000 patients per physician are displaced and must find a new caregiver when a physician leaves his or her practice.
  • The American Medical Association has called Washington one of 19 states in crisis.
  • In a recent poll, 70 percent of people polled say they support meaningful liability reform that includes caps on non-economic damages.

Real people:

  • Dr. Amy Occhino is an OB/GYN in the Tri-Cities. She says, "My malpractice insurance has gone up more than 300 percent in the past two years, and that dramatic increase has occurred without a single claim against me." She also says, "It is getting increasingly difficult to serve this community as a doctor because of fear, and because of the expense. The fear is that lawsuits can hit at anytime for any reason, and the increasing financial burden of malpractice insurance make the practice of medicine less and less feasible."

Concrete solutions:

  • I'll propose legislation to change our state law to protect those rare patients who are injured while also protecting good doctors and nurses from frivolous lawsuits. These reforms will lower the cost of insurance for medical professionals and keep them practicing in our state, so patients everywhere in Washington have access to doctors.


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