by Wayne W. Oliver
Originally published in the Palm Beach Post on August 28, 2014
In 2013, nearly 19 million Floridians paid up to $40 billion per year in defensive medicine costs so that 75 medical malpractice cases could go to a jury trial to compensate 18 injured patients.
Escalating health care costs are being fueled by physicians’ need to practice “defensive medicine.” Defensive medicine is the practice of ordering medical tests, procedures, and consultations of doubtful clinical or therapeutic value to protect against litigation. Defensive medicine is a hidden driver in the cost of health care, and accounts for as much as 26 percent of overall health care spending.
Instead of spending time ordering tests that may have questionable clinical value in order to protect against the wearying threat of litigation, wouldn’t a physician’s time be better spent improving the quality of health care? Improving patient care, along with fair patient compensation practices, should be twin goals, but better care is not at the heart of tort reform.