Malpractice Reform Won't Save Money

Ambulance Chasers II  2004  Linda Braucht (20th C. American) Computer graphicsTwo problems loom large over the American medical care system. First, we spend outrageous amounts of money on healthcare, with too many patients receiving too many services at too high a price. Second, our malpractice system is an international embarrassment, with too many healthcare providers sued by too many patients for too little reason.
Many experts have pointed out that these problems are two sides of the same coin. On the cost side: the high price of medical care makes doctors and hospitals into lucrative litigatory targets. On the malpractice side, litigation drives up healthcare costs by forcing physicians to charge higher fees so they can pay costly malpractice insurance, and by incentivizing these same physicians to order unnecessary tests and procedures to avoid getting sued by patients who expect such interventions. (To read the rest of this post and leave comments, please visit Forbes.)

Malpractice Reform Could Benefit Patients More Than Doctors

malThe U.S. medical malpractice system is broken. It frequently does not punish doctors who need punishing, while levying fines against doctors who did nothing wrong. And this dreadfully inaccurate system still manages to take almost five years, on average, to settle claims.
Experts have been promoting a type of reform known as “safe harbor rules,”…
(Read more and view comments at Forbes)

Do Malpractice Fears Cause Physicians to Order Unnecessary Tests?

malpractice defAsk physicians if our messed up malpractice system causes them to practice “defensive medicine,” and most will probably say yes – hard not to be paranoid with so many lawsuits affecting so many physicians. Some experts even contend that major reforms of our malpractice system could go a long way towards controlling spiraling healthcare costs. On the other hand, if you ask physicians whether they ever order unnecessary tests for their patients, I expect most would say “no;” after all, that would be unprofessional.
In other words, it’s hard to get a handle on the true costs of defensive medicine.
But recently, a group of researchers led by Emily Carrier came up with a clever way of getting closer to such an estimate. They connected two pieces of previously unconnected data: physicians’ survey responses from 2008 in which they expressed how concerned they were about malpractice, and the same physicians’ test ordering behavior over the same period of time. That latter bit of data comes from Medicare, which gives researchers access to what is called “claims data” – records of the bills Medicare receives from physicians and hospitals… (Read more and view comments at Forbes)

Malpractice Claims Feel Endless Because…They Are!

I am very fortunate to have never been sued. That is not necessarily because of my amazing ability as a physician. I always practiced in Veterans Affairs medical centers, where my status as a federal employee meant I would not get sued by my patients. I also had an incredibly appreciative patient population.
But I know that most of my physician peers have been sued, successfully or unsuccessfully, at least once in their careers. And I know that these lawsuits take an emotional toll upon them. To make matters worse, malpractice lawsuits have a nagging tendency to drag themselves out for months upon months…(Read more and view comments at Forbes)