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Neurosurgeons Boycott Emergency Calls To Protest Insurance Rates

December 8, 1986

MIAMI (AP) _ A handful of neurosurgeons who serve four north Dade County hospitals continued their boycot of emergency room calls Sunday in protest of escalating medical malpractice costs, hospital officials said.

Some six or seven neurosurgeons and a couple of thoracic specialists - high-risk specialty doctors - have refused emergency calls since Dec. 1, officials said. These doctors serve virtually the entire northern part of the county’s estimated 1.7 million residents.

″I think they’re very serious about what they’re doing,″ said Anna Bischoff, a spokeswoman for North Shore Hospital and Medical Center. ″It’s nothing that’s going to end overnight.

″My impression is that unless something is done by the Legislature,″ she added, ″that’s the way it’s going to be for a while.″

The Dade County Medical Association and the South Florida Hospital Association have scheduled meetings for Thursday to discuss a package of legislative reform measures to present to the Florida Legislature, Ms. Bischoff said.

The Legislature is not scheduled to convene until April, but leaders have discussed ordering a special session to deal with the growing drug problem and prison overcrowding in Florida.

In the meantime, the hospitals affected have no way of knowing how long the boycott could last, she said. Emergency rooms have had to notify fire and rescue officials not to bring in trauma patients.

Neurosurgeons, whose yearly malpractice insurance premiums can be as much as $170,000, simply cannot afford the insurance costs, said Dr. Eugene Gitin, chief of emergency services at Parkway Regional Medical Center, one of the boycotted hospitals.

″They’ve been brought to the point of no return,″ Gitin said. ″They’re saying: ‘I can go no further because you will not allow me to purchase adequate, affordable insurance.’ ″This is not a manufactured crisis, this is true, this is real,″ he added. ″It’s happening today and it must be dealt with.″

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