Indiana medical malpractice lawyers frequently hear the argument that the fear of malpractice claims causes doctors to practice “defensive medicine” — ordering tests and procedures to avoid being sued rather than because they are medically indicated. Health care providers and their insurers argue that defensive medicine drives up the cost of health care. However, the argument has little basis in fact.
Recent studies in the respected journal Health Affairs found that the costs of “defensive medicine” have been dramatically overstated by critics of the malpractice system. According to the studies, the practice of defensive medicine has little impact on the total cost of health care.
The findings of the authors of the Health Affairs studies are consistent with previous findings from other studies. In 2008, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office found that much of what is characterized as “defensive medicine” may be “motivated less by liability concerns than the income it generates for physicians. . . .” The report concluded that “on the basis of existing studies and its own research, CBO believes that savings from reducing defensive medicine would be very small.”
The ultimate goal of those who argue that “defensive medicine” drives up health care costs is to place limits on the ability of victims of malpractice to recover for their injuries. The Indiana medical malpractice lawyers at Garau Germano Hanley & Pennington, P.C. believe that such arguments should be based on fact, rather than myth.