Some put the figure for defensive medicine at 10% of medical expenses a year. That’s $250 billion dollars. Others claim it to be 2-3% per year or about $60 billion dollars a year.
Now ask any physician what it is. I’d say it’s closer to 30% a year. That’s $750 billion dollars a year. Why? Because I know what is going through the minds of physicians when they put the pen to the paper. In America, we strive to exclude the long tail diagnosis. Why? Because getting sued for 67 million dollars because you treated a torn aorta when all the evidence pointed to an emergent MI has a way of making doctors evaluate the possible, instead of focusing on the probable.
Defensive medicine is not about losing a lawsuit. It’s about getting sued and the lack of boundaries that protect a physician from having bad outcomes with competent medicine, even if that competent medicine was the wrong medicine for the wrong patient at the wrong time, a fact known only after the fact when a bad outcome occurs. Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at A Happy Hospitalist*