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Solutions proposed to anticipated New Jersey doctor shortage

Local lawmakers are working to find a solution to an anticipated doctor shortage facing the state. New Jersey is projected to have 3,000 fewer doctors than the population requires by 2020. A recent survey showed that one out of every ten doctors currently practicing in New Jersey were planning to leave the state.

An assemblywoman has proposed a measure to establish a state-sanction medical malpractice mediation system, which would be voluntary for patients who are interested in pursuing a medical malpractice claim. The mediation system would supposedly lower malpractice compensation by having patients negotiate directly with hospitals and clinics that are responsible for their injury.

While a shortage of qualified medical professionals is certainly a very serious concern for New Jersey residents, it’s unclear whether this measure will be effective in reversing the trend or whether the overall outcome would be better for patients.

The local lawmaker who proposed the measure believes that medical malpractice insurance rates in New Jersey are a factor in doctors choosing to practice elsewhere and is contributing to the problem of fewer doctors in the state.

One major issue in establishing such as system is that injured patients seeking a remedy will be alone in the process of obtaining a fair settlement with the healthcare provider. Rather than having a dedicated advocate fighting for them and helping them navigate a complex system of laws, patients will more often be negotiating their own settlements with hospitals and clinics, even in cases where they are still ill and vulnerable.

Source: New Jersey 101.5, “NJ Doctor Shortage Looming,” Kevin McArdle, Oct. 2, 2012.

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