Physician rallies to raise awareness of the skyrocketing costs of malpractice premium insurance have blamed many parties, including government, the insurance industry, and especially lawyers. Long the butt of jokes, malpractice and trial lawyers find themselves coming under fire from one of the strongest lobbying groups in the country — physicians.
A review of the hourly compensation rates of lawyers and physicians by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals, however, greater increases in hourly wages reported by physicians from 1997 through 2001 than by their lawyer counterparts. The data show an increase in hourly wages reported by physicians from $38.80 in 1997 to $60.14 in 2001. During the same period, lawyers' wages rose from $34.48 to $38.77. The bureau was unable to explain the big jump from 1998 to 1999; a spokesman suggested that different populations were measured.