Thursday, September 09, 2010

September 9, 2010 - Defensive Medicine

The headline reads, "Cost of Medical Malpractice Tops $55 Billion a Year in U.S." But it's misleading.

It's not the cost of malpractice that's the problem. It's the cost of the medical world's hyper-defensiveness in trying to stave off lawsuits.

The troubling figure, according to a recent, comprehensive study described in the article, is: 2.4.

That's 2.4 per cent of annual healthcare spending that's related to malpractice, including medical practitioners defending themselves against potential lawsuits.

Think of it - you write a check to your doctor for a $35 copay. No matter how expert your doctor is, no matter how meticulous he or she may be about leaving no medical stone unturned in diagnosis or treatment, 84 cents of what you're paying that day goes to cover the cost of other doctors who aren't so good at what they do.

Multiply that by every check written to every doctor and hospital around the country, and we're talking some really big money.

It's not so much the bad doctors out there who are the problem. Their numbers are very small. It's our fear of them that's the problem. It's a fear that leads even the best doctors to shell out big bucks for malpractice insurance, and that causes us to pay big bucks for marginally necessary tests.

They call it "defensive medicine," and it's costly indeed.

I hope the medical reform now working its way through our government includes some measures to reduce the adverse impact of this largely unreasoned fear.

It's a lot of money. It's not the whole answer to runaway medical costs in this country, by any means, but it's significant.

1 comment:

caleb john said...
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