Archives: June 2010

Majority of physicians believe concerns over malpractice lawsuits result in “defensive medicine”

A survey by Mount Sinai School of Medicine researchers has found that 91 percent of physicians believe concerns over malpractice lawsuits result in “defensive medicine,” ordering more tests and procedures than necessary as a protective measure. The study, which questioned 2,416 physicians, is published in the June 28 edition of Archives of Internal Medicine. A majority of physicians, 90.7 percent, also believe that better protections against unwarranted malpractice suits are needed in order to decrease the ordering of unnecessary medical tests. “About $60 billion is spent annually on defensive medicine and many physicians feel they are vulnerable to malpractice lawsuits even when they practice competently within the standard of care,” said Tara Bishop, MD, Associate, General Internal Medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and co-author of the study. “The study shows that an overwhelming majority of physicians support tort reform to decrease malpractice lawsuits and that unnecessary testing, a contributor to rising health care costs, will not decrease without it” Dr. Bishop, Salomeh Keyhani, MD, MPH, Assistant Professor, Health Evidence and Policy, and Alex Federman, MD, MPH, Assistant Professor, General Internal Medicine, at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, conducted the national survey of physicians from a variety of practice…

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Continue health reform

News that the Norwich OB/GYN Group is closing is evidence that the job of reforming the health care system is not over. The closing will be a hardship for the 5,000 patients who now have to seek care elsewhere. It creates a potential shortage in obstetric and gynecological care. This is on top of growing concerns about a shortage of primary care physicians. While problems specific to the practice, among them legal troubles, contributed to its financial difficulties and the closing, many local doctors can commiserate with its troubles. Malpractice insurance rates had reached $130,000 per year, per doctor, according to owner Dr. H. John Bodin. And insufficient and slow arriving Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements created money-flow problems. To control rising health care costs, the cost of malpractice insurance has to be trimmed, and that means tort reform. In addition, fear of excessive malpractice judgments drives doctors to order needless tests. While this newspaper supported the health care reform legislation, it was critical of the failure to include serious tort reform. In November, Republicans are likely to gain seats in the Senate and House. They should use that muscle to add tort reform to the health care reform package, a…

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State’s tort climate gets high ranking

Some good news about Wisconsin’s business climate courtesy of a California-based free market think tank. When it comes to the burden imposed by personal injury lawsuits and related litigation, Wisconsin fares well in the latest rankings by the Pacific Research Institute, where Lawrence McQuillan is director of business and economic studies. “It matters, because the tort climate is an important factor in the overall business climate of a state,” said McQuillan Paul Gagliardi with the trial lawyers group Wisconsin Association for Justice said the state has never been known for frivolous litigation. “You’re ill advised if you file cases that are without merit,” said Gagliardi. “This a pretty upfront state, we leave the door open to the courthouse, which you should do. But if you abuse that priviledge there are significant consequences.” PRI ranked Wisconsin ninth in the “tort threat.” McQuillan said the state has good caps on non-economic damages in medical malpractice suits, although Gagliardi points out that such punitive damages are not allowed at all in Wisconsin. One note of caution from McQuillan – the legislature has not addressed tort reform in recent years, which could allow the state’s rankings to slip. “You haven’t done a whole lot…

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