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Defensive Medicine Worsens Patient Care And Raises Costs

Tue, 05/04/2010 - 7:51am
Roy Benaroch, MD

Health care in the United States costs too much, and it doesn’t look like that’s going to change. Recent health care reform legislation doesn’t take any meaningful steps towards reducing or controlling costs. In fact, it explicitly forbids states from trying to curtail the costs of malpractice litigation in any way that would reduce lawyers’ fees.

How does a fear of lawsuits increase costs? The most direct way is “defensive medicine”– the ordering of unneeded labs and tests for the sole purpose of preventing a lawsuit, or to provide defensive ammunition in case of a lawsuit.

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