Malpractice Reform

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While there were no specific agreements between doctors and members of the lawyers' association, both groups tried to find common ground.

A past president of the state trial lawyers association says doctors and lawmakers should give a bill approved by the state legislature last year time to work.

"I think the mutual plan needs time to work," says Parkersburg attorney Dave Goldberg. "But the key to that is doctors participating in large numbers. If only a small percentage participate, it is doomed to failure. The idea of the plan, and the reason they have trouble in West Virginia, is that we only have a small risk pool of doctors. If we have a larger number, it will work."

Several of the doctors in Parkersburg have practices in Ohio as well. One of them says that, while the situation isn't nearly as severe, there is a concern the malpractice crisis could cross the river into the Buckeye State.

While Gabriel Maijub, whose term as president of the Parkersburg Medical Academy ended recently, says he's in the state to stay, he isn't sure that's going to happen with many of his colleagues.

"One of the biggest problems I have as a family physician is, I need specialists to refer to," Maijub says. "If cardiologists and surgeons are leaving, then we probably don't have a choice but to leave ourselves."

While Gov. Wise has so far balked at calling a special session to re-enforce last year's legislation, local lawmakers continue trying to put pressure on him to do so.

This week, physicians will gather for a rally to continue their call for more legislative action on the malpractice issue.

That rally will be held Wednesday at 1 p.m., at Bicentennial Park in downtown Parkersburg.