Doctor Shortage Still a Problem

Dr. Bruner Bosio has been an OBGYN at Singing River Hospital since 1976. With rising malpractice insurance, he's paying hefty amounts each year, just to be covered.

"When I think back what the price of malpractice insurance was 27 years ago, and what it is now, I'm probably paying 40 to 50 times higher," said Bosio.

But paying for rising malpractice insurance isn't the only problem for doctors in Mississippi. Sometimes they can't even get insurance.

"For new physicians coming into practice, it's a problem unless they're coming in with an established group to obtain malpractice coverage," said Bosio.

It's so difficult to find insurance that many doctors have decided to leave Mississippi.

"In specific in the last year, I know of three general surgeons who have left this hospital, and I think in large part because of the malpractice climate and because of malpractice insurance," said Bosio. "All three have chosen to go to other states, one in Louisiana and two to Florida because of this."

Hospital administrators say finding and keeping medical malpractice insurance is a problem that many Mississippi doctors face.

"I would guess we had 20 or 30 physicians who lost the policy that they had through no fault of their own. They were canceled for a number of reasons, most often companies getting out of Mississippi," said Chris Anderson, CEO of Singing River Hospital Systems.

And when insurance companies get out of Mississippi, so do doctors--something that hospitals across the state can't afford to lose.

Most hospitals administrators attribute rising malpractice insurance costs almost solely to lawsuit abuse. Doctors we talked to said they hope the State Legislature and the new Governor will pass new laws to help cut down on medical malpractice suits.

Claire Nelson