Study Finds a Third of Medical Costs Can Be Attributed to Defensive Medicine! But is this a Bad Thing? Kingston, Medical Malpractice Lawyer Doesn’t Think So!
A poll was conducted by Oppenheim Research on behalf of Patients for Fair Compensation which found amazing results. Their study found that about one-third of healthcare funds expended in Florida were for unnecessary tests, treatments, and examinations done by physicians in order to avoid being sued!
The researchers said that this would eliminate $650 billion per year in medical costs nationwide. Just by itself, Florida’s annual healthcare accounts for about $132 billion for healthcare costs. Therefore, it so follows that a little over $40 billion in health care costs by Florida is spent on unnecessary tests and treatments. Further, they concluded that eighty-eight percent of Florida physicians are practicing some form of defensive medicine within the past year. Chairman Richard L. Jackson of the Patients for Fair Compensation was quoted regarding the survey saying that “[t]hat kind of money could certainly help pay for the healthcare of many uninsured Americans . . . if we eliminate defensive medicine, we can make healthcare more affordable for everyone.”
Defensive medicine is more than just a money drain. Yes, it shows that doctors are cognizant of lawyers watching their every move. However, it is incredibly hard to successfully sue a doctor for medical malpractice; it cannot be a small deviation from the accepted norm! Massive medical malpractice lawsuits are because the doctor truly caused great harm to the patient. Therefore, defensive medicine is almost unwarranted to that degree, because those small mistakes won’t ground liability in a physician’s mistake.
Additionally, defensive medicine is going to primarily be “rule out” procedures. These are procedures that are diagnostic in nature and seek to check on specific health conditions that could effectively be plaguing the patient. Not only are they generally less-expensive, but they can actually prevent more dangerous conditions that WOULD cost a lot of money (for example, treatable forms of cancer when timely detected). Defensive medicine could be things such as blood tests, endoscopies, colonoscopies, mammograms, and biopsies. Medical guidelines say we need to have these certain procedures done every so often, but sometimes a physician might come across a troubling symptom that a patient has and may order them outside of that accepted schedule; this is where that cost lies.
So let’s break this down. Say that performing diagnostic tests on all patients costs X. And treating dangerous conditions on the few patients that develop them costs Y. If X is greater than Y, than this new study has validity and we could save money by not performing defensive and cautionary medicine and just treating the dangerous conditions as they arise. However, if Y is greater than X, maybe we need to perform more preventative medicine to lower the costs of the dangerous conditions. In either scenario we are forgetting one intangible; people.
Costs should not matter when it comes to effectively treating patients! Whatever happens to an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure?! This is why it shouldn’t matter that defensive medicine is costing so much money, because it WILL bring the long term costs down whether it is a pecuniary cost or a human life cost. Consequently, this survey was looking at Florida where it is understood that there is an aging population more than the national average. Thus, it would wholly be improper to try and impute this study on the rest of the United States because the demographics are different!
But what do you think? I would love to hear from you! I welcome your phone call on my toll-free cell at 1-866-889-6882 or you can drop me an e-mail at [email protected] . You are always welcome to request my FREE book, The Seven Deadly Mistakes of Malpractice Victims, at the home page of my website at www.protectingpatientrights.com.