During the heated debate about national healthcare some people have claimed that one of the primary causes of the high cost of care is lawsuits brought against physicians and other healthcare providers.  A recent jury verdict in Saranac Lake, New York, illustrates this fact.

The jury found that Dr. Patricia Monroe and Adirondack Internal Medicine and Pediatrics were guilty of malpractice and are liable to an 18 year old girl and her 16 year old sister $11 million.  The jury said the girls’ pediatrician Dr. Monroe was negligent because she did not prevent the girls from being repeatedly sexually assaulted by their half-brother nine years earlier when the boy was 14.

The lawyer for Dr. Monroe said “I was surprised they found any negligence, and then I was really flabbergasted by the amount.  That’s why New York state needs tort reform. These kind of verdicts are driving doctors out of the state.”

The initial lawsuit, which was filed in 2002, named other defendants whom the girls’ mother had contacted for help, including the Lake Placid Central School District, then-Lake Placid Middle/High School Principal Robert Schiller, then-school Psychologist Randy Quayle, Essex County, St. Agnes Parochial (Catholic) School and the Catholic Diocese of Ogdensburg. But those “mandated reporter” claims were ultimately dismissed.