The Extent of Defensive Medicine

Some more interesting information has come to light on the issue of medical liability reform.

At the annual meeting this week of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, a new study was released that helps us better understand the extent to which medical professionals order unnecessary tests and procedures as protection against possible litigation.

There have, of course, been studies in the past based upon physician surveys.  In this case, though, over 70 orthopedic surgeons in Pennsylvania were asked to track, over an extended period of time, whether an action was taken because it was for essential clinical care or if was a case of practicing defensive medicine.

As the Associated Press reported, the study showed that one in every five tests is ordered for defensive reasons and 35 percent of all costs can be attributed to defensive medicine.

Given mounting data like this, it’s no wonder that the House Judiciary Committee is moving rapidly to mark up liability reform legislation and the President’s proposed budget calls for “a more aggressive effort to reform our medical malpractice system.”