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Victims of Nevada's Trauma Center Closure Speak Out at Senate Press Conference.

WASHINGTON -- WASHINGTON, March 7 /PRNewswire/ -- Mary Rasar, 37, of Lake Elsinore, California, and her 17-year-old son, Timothy, has called for reform of America's medical liability system at a press conference sponsored by Senators Ensign (R-NV), Santorum (R-PA), Gregg (R-NH), and Thomas (R-WY). Mrs. Rasar lost her father last year when Nevada's only Level 1 trauma center was forced to close because of skyrocketing medical liability costs.

On July 4, 2002, Jim "Fisty" Lawson, 59, of Las Vegas, Nevada was injured in a car accident. He suffered multiple blunt injuries and required immediate trauma care. The state's only Level 1 trauma center -- the University of Nevada's Medical Center, where Mr. Lawson should have been taken -- had been forced to shut its doors just days before because rising liability costs had forced insurers to drop coverage on high-risk specialists. "Over a six month period of time, the center was systematically put out of business," said Dr. John Fildes, director of the Las Vegas University Medical Center.

Mr. Lawson was instead rushed to nearby Desert Springs Hospital. He died while awaiting air transport to the nearest Level 1 trauma center more than an hour away.

"I truly believe that my Dad would be alive today had the Trauma Center been open," said Mrs. Rasar, who joined the Senators in the March 6 press conference. "Our family has been devastated. My Dad was the only father figure for my two nephews, and now they're alone. He took care of his aging Mother, and now she blames herself for not suggesting that he stay just one more day in California.

"I don't blame the doctors," she added. "I know they did all they could to keep practicing medicine, but ultimately it wasn't their choice. I just never thought this crisis would reach our family, so personally, and I hope no one else has to suffer as we have."

The HEALTH Act of 2003 (H.R. 5), a bill that seeks to reform our nation's ailing liability system through progressive measures including a cap on non- economic damages for jury awards, has been approved by the House Judiciary and Energy and Commerce committees. It is expected to come before the full House for debate next week.

For additional information about CARH and the medical liability crisis, visit http://www.carh.net/ .

CONTACT: Brett Ethridge, +1-202-661-6318, for Coalition for Affordable and Reliable Health Care

Web site: http://www.carh.net/
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Date:Mar 7, 2003
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