Don't undo medical malpractice reforms

To the editor:

In 2002, there was a medical malpractice crisis in Nevada. I remember this because I was able to watch it happen while I worked as an active duty OB/GYN physician at Nellis Air Force Base. While civilian OB/GYN physicians were forced to leave Las Vegas due to skyrocketing malpractice insurance premiums, and patients could not find doctors to deliver their babies in Las Vegas, I could not believe that our growing town would let this happen.

And then AB1 was passed in a special session of the Legislature in 2002. This provided some measure of tort reform. It wasn't perfect, but it did improve things. And because of this, I decided to stay in Las Vegas as a civilian OB/GYN physician when I separated honorably from the Air Force in 2003.

Then in 2004, the voters of Nevada passed Question 3, which improved tort reform here in Nevada. This sensible legislation stabilized the malpractice insurance market in Nevada, and many insurers came back to our state. Indeed, new insurance companies were started as well, including my own malpractice insurance carrier, Premier Physicians Insurance Company, of which I am one of the physician owners.

And doctors came to our state as well. When I joined my current private OB/GYN practice, Women's Specialty Care, in 2003, I was one of three physicians. As of today, my practice has 22 providers, including 17 physicians and 5 nurse practitioners. We have been able to attract some of the best doctors in the country because of the improved malpractice insurance climate and the desperate need for quality doctors after so many decided to leave in 2002.

Now the Legislature is hearing testimony on AB495, which proposes to remove all of the tort reform measures that were passed in 2002 and 2004. And as an OB/GYN, I am honestly scared of what this bill would do to the citizens of Nevada. If Nevada loses its favorable tort reform measures, I foresee doctors leaving our state once again in droves, and patients looking elsewhere for medical care. Pregnant women will not have doctors to deliver their babies. Trauma victims may not have surgeons available in their unforeseen time of need.

I hope the Legislature remembers how dire things were in 2002 and does the right thing for the people of Nevada. I am living proof that tort reform measures work. I chose to stay in Nevada after serving my country, rather than return to New York, my hometown. I have been proud to serve this community, and I hope I am able to continue to do so.

Keith Brill, M.D.


Smoking ban

To the editor:

I am a Las Vegas tavern owner and a member of the Nevada Tavern Owners Association. I just wanted to clarify some testimony given by the opposition to SB372 to the Nevada Legislature on Friday and let the public know the accurate story behind our support of this bill.

We tavern owners experienced a significant drop in our business from 2006, before voters approved a smoking ban, compared to 2007, after the smoking ban took effect and before the economy tanked. These drops in revenue are a matter of record submitted by the Nevada Tavern Owners Association to the Legislature, but somehow they weren't reviewed by the opposition. Probably just a small oversight.

We want the public to know that SB372 is an amendment that will allow us to serve food in the bar area to customers 21 and over, to willing patrons who smoke and drink. It does not allow any patron to smoke where the owner has cordoned off the restaurant and created a nonsmoking area for other willing patrons who want to eat in a no-smoking environment.

We don't expect the public to be concerned about our pocketbooks. But the average tavern owner lost 3.2 employees directly attributable to the voter-approved smoking ban. We predicted this would happen. That data also is now a matter of public record.

We, as tavern owners, believe customers know what they're getting themselves in for when they enter our businesses. The anti-smoking people who were suddenly going to become tavern patrons after smoking was banned have -- surprise! -- never materialized. That is their choice, and we applaud it.

We tavern owners don't have some sinister agenda. SB372 still protects "the children" (Isn't that what the ballot question was really was about?) and lets adults make their own free choices.

Joe Wilcock


Newspaper channel

To the editor:

I am from Texas, but I get to Las Vegas quite a bit, so I keep up with the Las Vegas Review-Journal online.

Your RJtv idea is awesome. Keep up the great work.

Artie Aguilar