The President Elect’s transition team wants you to share your ideas with them.
In January, we will have a new President that has promised to replace Obamacare and make quality and affordable healthcare available to the citizens of the United States.
The President Elect must be introduced to the need for procedural changes to medical malpractice liability as an effective way to significantly reduce healthcare costs associated with defensive medicine?
Answering the following questions will help the President Elect and his transition team.
1. Does defensive medicine exist?
2. If it does, can increased costs of care be associated with defensive medicine?
3. Is the use of defensive medicine effective in reducing malpractice claims?
4. Is the percentage of increased costs significant enough to justify changes to medical malpractice liability procedures?
5. If yes, then what changes should be implemented?
Anecdotally, we all know that defensive medicine is a reality in spite of a number of individuals saying that it does not exist or, if it does, that it is inconsequential and does not need to be addressed. To help support the reality of defensive medicine you simply have to read a paper, “Physician spending and subsequent risk of malpractice claims: observational study,” by Harvard and Stanford scholars in the British Medical Journal. I discussed this paper last year.
The study question was: “Is a higher use of resources by physicians associated with a reduced risk of malpractice claims?” The answer was yes. But, you knew that already. Importantly, the study supported this with facts.
The study included 24,637 Florida physicians, 154,725 physician years and 18,352,391 hospital admissions. 4,342 malpractice claims were made against the physicians.
The results showed that greater spending by physicians was associated with a lower risk of being subject to a malpractice claim. Internists that fell within the lower 20% of internist spending ($19,725.00 per hospital admission) had a 1.5% chance of incurring a malpractice claim.
Internists in the top 20% tier of spending ($39,379.00 per hospital admission) had a 0.3% chance of incurring a malpractice claim. A five fold decrease in being subject to a malpractice claim.
Who wouldn’t use more resources and increase spending if it would significantly reduce incurring a malpractice claim.
The authors concluded that:
1. “. … a greater use of resources was associated with statistically significant lower subsequent rates of alleged malpractice incidents.”
2. “Within specialty and after adjustment for patient characteristics, higher resource use by physicians is associated with fewer malpractice claims.”
The study showed an increase of $19,654.00 in costs per hospital admission from the bottom 20% tier to the top 20% tier in the numbers we presented above.
The upper tier internists actually outspent the lower tier internists by a factor of two. A 100% increase in spending is significant. The overall percentage increase would be less when all the tiers are included. But, it would still be significant. It would be greater than the 25% level I previously have considered as a benchmark cost of defensive medicine.
So, the existence of defensive medicine and significant increased associated costs is supported by a factual study.
Because defensive medicine significantly increases the overall costs of healthcare, changes to medical malpractice liability procedures could reduce the need for defensive medicine and dramatically reduce overall healthcare costs in the U. S. It might make healthcare insurance more affordable.
Also, changes would dramatically increase overall physician satisfaction with the profession.
This is needed in today’s highly regulated practice environment.
You cannot have effective healthcare reform without real medical malpractice liability reform. Obamacare did not introduce any changes to medical malpractice liability and, as written, specifically protects the status quo of medical malpractice liability.
Let the President Elect’s transition team know that defensive medicine and medical malpractice liability reform have to be addressed in order to effectively control healthcare costs.
Go to the transition team’s website and share your ideas with them. You can copy and paste this article in the share your ideas form if you wish. It only takes minutes.
Tap or click for a practical solution to medical malpractice reform.