Malpractice Insurance Crisis Hits Woolmarket Physician

Impending war has pushed the medical malpractice issue to the back burner of news coverage. But the crisis hasn't gone away. Just ask the only family practice physician in Woolmarket.

The soaring cost of insurance threatens to force her out of business.

Dr. Karen Mullen says her two person family clinic in Woolmarket is a dream come true. But the nightmare of finding affordable malpractice insurance gives the doctor a sick feeling. The lowest estimate is forty thousand dollars.

"I can get malpractice insurance. But they might as well say a million dollars. For me, forty thousand is, there's just no money for it. I just don't have that kind of money," said Dr. Mullen.

Mary Corbin is the other half of the family clinic. She jokes that Dr. Mullen makes diagnoses and writes prescriptions, while she does everything else.

But the malpractice crisis is not a laughing matter.

"Oh, I was furious yesterday. That's why I called you guys. And I told her action was better than inaction. If you're going to go out, at least make a statement when you go," said Corbin.

It may well come to closing the clinic. There's no comfortable prescription for this problem.

"Do I have the energy to start over? Or do I just say uncle and just be a salaried employee somewhere in a hospital. Just give the whole thing up. And that's probably what I'll have to do," explained Dr. Mullen.

Corbin says it's gotten ridiculous.

"It's all gotten insane to me when you talk about wanting forty thousand dollars per year for a family practice physician. You just can't do it," she said.

The doctor hasn't given up yet. She says lawmakers considering creating a risk pool of malpractice insurance offers a glimmer of hope. But she's not counting on it.

"They might and they might not. And if they, if I cannot get insurance through that pool, then I will have to move," she said.

It's a move that's unwanted and many would say uncalled for. But sky high malpractice insurance may leave no choice.

Dr. Mullen says she has to laugh when she hears people saying that "rich doctors" can afford such insurance.

She made 50 thousand dollars last year.