HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Defensive Medicine: New Study Shocker

JAMA will publish the results of a new study of defensive medicine in tomorrow's issue, according the the AP.  On its home page, JAMA offers the following summary:

In a survey of [824] Pennsylvania physicians representing 6 specialties at high risk of litigation for their practice of defensive medicine, [the authors] found that 93% reported practicing defensive medicine, particularly assurance behaviors such as ordering more tests, prescribing more medications, and performing more procedures to confirm diagnoses [and avoiding risky procedures].

The AP continued: "That means they engaged in unsound practices that exposed patients to potential harm, said Dr. Peter Budetti, a physician-lawyer and public health professor at University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. He called the numbers staggering. . . .  'Perhaps the greatest irony is that defensive medicine may be counterproductive and actually might increase malpractice risk,' said Budetti, who wrote an accompanying editorial."

A second study in this week's JAMA, according the AP, "found that caps on malpractice damages and other changes in liability law appear to have less effect on the nation's supply of doctors than ardent supporters of tort reform contend."  [tm]

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