Immunizing Doctors from Lawsuits Doesn't Reduce Medical Costs
DEFENSIVE MEDICINE DOESNT WORK
It has been a recent trend among doctors to order huge numbers of unnecessary and expensive tests like MRIs and CT scans solely to protect themselves from malpractice lawsuits. If this "defensive medicine" really happens, immunizing doctors from lawsuits should cut down on wasteful testing and save us all a lot of money.
A new study from the RAND Institute finds no evidence of any such savings when emergency medicine doctors obtained virtual lawsuit immunity from the legislatures of three states: Georgia, Texas and South Carolina. All three states changed their legal standards for what a patient has to prove to win a malpractice case, getting rid of the time-honored ordinary negligence/carelessness standard that applies to everyone else who hurts someone. Now, patients must prove that the emergency room doctor was "willful and wanton" (Texas) or "grossly negligent" (GA and SC). That means the patient must show the doctor actually knew there was a high risk of serious injury and ignored it. As a practical matter, that provides virtual immunity from lawsuits.
In all three states, lawsuit filings against hospital emergency rooms have plunged since the new legal standards went into effect. But what about the costs of patient care? That's where the new study found no evidence of any changes in the habits of ER doctors. They still test at the same rate and keep patients overnight at the same rate. Therefore, the savings the doctors are experiencing are not being passed on to their patients.
Read the RAND study here: http://www.rand.org/news/press/2014/10/15.html
If you or a loved one have been a victim of Indiana Medical Malpractice, call The Sweeney law firm now.