“Defensive Medicine:” A Doctor Speaks Out on the Lack of Link between Malpractice Lawsuits and Medical Costs

A piece by a doctor in Salon.com puts the lie to claims from the medical industry that a dose of “tort reform” to curb medical malpractice lawsuits will lower medical costs and make for safer health care. Quite the opposite, as pediatrician Rahul K. Parikh, M.D. explains. Two short excerpts below from his article, which is worth reading in its entirety:

Their refrain [of the AMA leaders] is familiar to anybody following the healthcare reform debate. The only problem is that it’s not true. There’s nothing “sure or quick” about changing medical liability laws that will improve healthcare or its costs. Defensive medicine adds very little to healthcare’s price tag, and rising malpractice premiums have had very little impact on access to care.

Tort reformers neglect the fact that malpractice reform won’t save one extra life. To make that difference, insurers, doctors and their lobbyists like the AMA need to find ways to improve patient safety. So for those who push tort reform as a panacea for a sick healthcare system, working to prevent injuries is a much more noble pursuit than writing up baseless arguments for the back pages of a newspaper [in this case, the Wall Street Journal].

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