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Physicians Inch Toward Boiling Point

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media, October 4, 2012

The survey notes that while many policy makers, academics, and others identify fee-for-service reimbursement as a key driver of health care costs, physicians believe that "defensive medicine is a far more important cost driver."

"Medical malpractice lawsuits, a rarity prior to the era of medical specialization, now are common, adding an additional layer of paperwork, expense, and stress in virtually every physician's work day," the report adds.

While states have enacted tort reform, it has been sporadic nationwide, with no clear national focus, Ray says. "Individual states have taken their own strides," Ray says. "Some states have never gotten tort reform going."

Medical malpractice goes to the heart of overspending in American healthcare, yet has not been fully addressed either by states, the federal government, or in healthcare reform, Ray says.  "It is ironic that part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was to bend the cost curve, to prevent unnecessary testing," he says.

"Why do many physicians move ahead with all those unnecessary procedures? Because of the fear of malpractice. And one of the things that stood out in the PPACA was its failure to address tort reform. It's really ironic to physicians what's going on."

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3 comments on "Physicians Inch Toward Boiling Point"


Insight 101 (10/8/2012 at 3:49 PM)
Its not MP either. Look at costs in TX where tort reform occured in the early 00's. If tort reform solved the defensive medicine arguement we'd have lower costs but it's just not so. FFS medicine is the driver based on high cost of services coupled with lack of coordination of services, lack of MD communication, lack of meaningful data sharing by insurance plans, laziness in care delivery, patient compliance and/or patient noncompliance and poor the health behavior we exhibit as a nation.

Marit Brock (10/5/2012 at 11:09 AM)
I have to agree with the previous comment. These stories don't seem to change over time and physicians don't actually appear to be quitting in droves. I wonder what the burnout rates of Physician Practice Administrators would show. Cynical comments aside, I do think these issues are real and could/should be addressed in our healthcare system. However, I don't believe that we will make any meaningful progress if we continue to take the approach of "we have to fix this for the physicians". Instead, there has to be a way to get physicians engaged so that we can "fix this WITH the physicians."

Bram Barker (10/4/2012 at 3:14 PM)
Doctors have threatened to quit for forever. No one does because they have no other skills. These stories just get monotonous.