Medical Malpractice Crisis: The Mythological and the Factual

Recently, there have been two important events related in the media concerning the existence of a true medical malpractice crisis in this country. First, the Congressional Budget Office commissioned a study of the subject and found that doctors aren’t practicing so-called “defensive medicine” because they fear medical malpractice lawsutis. The study concluded that when they practice defensive medicine it’s primarily for the benefit of the patient and led to higher income for the doctors. Second, at a recent medical conference in Boston, attendees were told that malpractice is “an unimportant element in what is going on” in the practice of medicine. The conference entitled, “Avoiding Avoidable Care”, doctors noted U.S. spends $2.5 trillion annually on healthcare. Only $10 billion of that is for payments related to the malpractice system. This is less than .4% of total costs. Finally, the doctors told conference attendees that defensive medicine was practiced due to business needs and not due to lawyers or the fear of malpractice lawsuits.