Tags: doctor | tests | malpractice

Docs Who Order More Tests Face Fewer Malpractice Claims

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By    |   Thursday, 05 Nov 2015 11:53 AM

American physicians who order more tests and services for their patients — regardless of whether they need them — tend to face fewer malpractice suits, a new study finds.

The research, published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), is the latest to suggest that “defensive medicine” — where doctors order more tests and services, even when they are unnecessary — is driving up healthcare costs.
 
Critics of Obamacare — President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act — have long cited the law’s lack of malpractice reforms, aimed at limiting frivolous lawsuits, as a key shortcoming.

Many argue the high costs of healthcare won’t be curtailed by Obamacare, without capping malpractice payouts, in part because doctors will continue to practice “defensive medicine” — defined as medical care provided to patients solely to reduce the threat of malpractice liability rather than to further diagnosis or treatment — to protect themselves from lawsuits that have no merit.
 
For the latest study, researchers investigated whether physicians who provide more costly care in a given year are less likely to face malpractice claims the following year.
 
They compared data on 19 million Florida hospital admissions between 2000 and 2009 to the malpractice history of more than 24,000 physicians in seven specialties.
 
They also tested whether obstetricians who were more likely to perform caesarean deliveries in a given year (commonly considered a defensive practice) had lower malpractice claims the following year.
 
The researchers found 4,342 malpractice claims were filed against physicians (2.8 percent), with the most filed against those specializing in pediatrics, general surgery, and obstetrics and gynecology.
 
Across all specialties, physicians who ordered more tests that resulted in higher healthcare spending per patient were hit with fewer malpractice suits.
 
The upshot: The findings suggest that greater use of resources — whether it reflects defensive medicine or not — is associated with fewer malpractice claims.
 
“The study shows that we need to better understand defensive medicine and how this type of practice impacts both patients and physicians,” the researchers concluded.

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Physicians who order more tests and services for their patients - regardless of whether they need them - tend to face fewer malpractice suits, a new study finds.
doctor, tests, malpractice
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2015-53-05
Thursday, 05 Nov 2015 11:53 AM
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