Two Doctors Back On Job

The two surgeons are now employed exclusively by Gulf Coast Medical Center. That means they lose their privileges at other hospitals. Another surgeon who's staying out of the operating room this week tells us it's good the doctors are insured again, but their coverage restricts where they can work.

"It's not the complete answer because it's not gonna allow them to go anywhere else. It won't allow them to continue their affiliation with Garden Park to help us cover trauma there. It's not the solution for the doctors that do not practice at Gulf Coast that were not offered coverage by Tenet or contracts with Tenet," Dr. Paul Mace said.

Dr. Mace and nine other surgeons say they'll continue their operating room walkout until they see what state lawmakers might do to solve the malpractice crisis. Thursday Governor Mugrove asked them all to go back to work.

Dr. Mace says he has no idea when he or the other doctors will go back to the O.R. But he is afraid that if a solution isn't found soon, the doctors who can't get insurance will leave, and no one will replace them.

Mace is seeing patients this week in his Gulfport office. He still has insurance. But he's staying out of the O.R., not only to show support for fellow surgeons who don't have coverage, but because he can't do the job without help.

"It's very difficult to run a level 3 trauma center and to cover trauma at two major hospitals like Memorial and Garden Park when you're down to three guys to do it and that's basically what we got down to."

If there aren't enough doctors to cover emergency surgeries, Mace says patients lives could be in jeopardy.

"If I'm in the operating room, and a bad car wreck comes in at Gulf Coast Medical Center with someone else who has acute life threatening injuries, if we don't have some sort of back up available, that patient's gonna die."

Mace says state lawmakers must find answers.

"We're really taking this day by day. We have not set any firm deadlines or commitments on when we're coming back. We're really basing that decision on what we see carried forth in the legislature."

Mace was one of the doctors who met with Governor Musgrove Thursday.

"We unfortunately were not given a copy of the bill to read through to see exactly what it entailed. He gave us sort of a broad overview but with everything else the devil's in details."