Advocates for changing how claims are filed and the limits on damages awarded, also known as tort reformers, have put forth the idea that medical malpractice lawsuits have created a phenomenon referred to as “defensive medicine.” The idea is that healthcare practitioners, especially emergency room physicians, fear that they may be sued if they miss something with a patient.
Because of this fear, they order excessive amounts of tests and diagnostic studies, which has the adverse effect of driving healthcare costs, and in turn, health insurance costs, up. As Plaintiff’s attorneys we’ve known this to be a false premise, and the public only had our word that this was happening, that is until now.
The concept was tested and the results have been published in one of the most respected medical journals, the New England Journal of Medicine. The conclusion….”legislation that substantially changed the malpractice standard for emergency physicians in three states had little effect on the intensity of practice, as measured by imaging rates, average charges, or hospital admission rates”.