“9 in 10 docs blame lawsuit fears for overtesting”

by Walter Olson on July 2, 2010

Few of our readers will be surprised at the new survey published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, but since some in the litigation lobby seem to go on denying the reality of defensive medicine problem year in and year out, it’s probably useful to keep piling on the evidence. [AP/WaPo]

{ 9 comments }

1 shg 07.02.10 at 7:47 am

While fear is certainly the impetus for those who harbor the fear to practice defensive medicine, it merely proves fear, not that the fear is justified or rational.

People fear terrorism and thus allow all sorts of indignities at airports, but the chances of harm by auto accidents is inordinately greater than at the hand of terrorists. Yet nobody is happy to let toll booth operators give them a quick pat down or breathalyzer test. Fear can be well-founded or irrational. But fear alone means nothing.

2 Doug 07.02.10 at 8:52 am

I wondered when Scott was going to comment here.

3 Bob Lipton 07.02.10 at 4:58 pm

Ah, yes, we have nothing to fear but fear itself. So, jump off that rooftop, it’s just acrophobia. Stab at your arm, it’s just aichmophobia. Eat a live cat — conquer that aileurophobia.

Then come back and talk to us, you coward!

Bob

4 Mike Bryant 07.03.10 at 10:18 am

They still profiting off of all of the tests they are “forced” to d0? How many dead people wish they had seen a little defensive medicine?

5 Bill Alexander 07.03.10 at 11:18 am

None. See definition of dead.

6 Commentor 07.03.10 at 2:52 pm

What else would they blame, profit motive?

7 Jackie Chiles 07.03.10 at 11:05 pm

Anyone who continues to push the “doctors profits from additional tests/defensive medicine” meme is either willfully ignorant or trying to deceive.

8 B.RAD 07.04.10 at 11:39 am

“They still profiting off of all of the tests they are “forced” to d0?”

Wow, you mean docs can get kickbacks from radiologists/imaging centers, pathologists/laboratories they send patients to for tests, and from cardiologists who read the EKGs and stress tests they order, and from a specialist who they refer patients to? Wow, I must’ve missed that lecture in medical school. You mean all the years I’ve practiced, my colleagues have been doing this and I’ve missed out? What a schmoe I am.

9 William Nuesslein 07.06.10 at 10:23 am

Shame on Mike Bryant above. There is no evidence at all that tort litigation, by holding doctors feet to the fire, actually saves any lives. The New Zealand, where malpractice torts were eliminated in 1974, experience shows that.

shg has a good point that doctors profit off their fear because third parties pick up the tab. But shg under-values the true horror of charges of malpractice. Random adverse outcomes are used to attack the character of people devoted to the healing arts.

Alan Shnurman takes pride in getting large sums for his clients. The pot of gold overrides justice. And he gets a good portion of the bounty.

The American economy can not afford medicine as practiced now. Eliminating unnecessary tests and the cost of malpractice litigation would help our finances and make us feel better too.

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