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Debunking the Myth on Defensive Medicine


Trial attorneys have long known the fallacies behind the notion of medical negligence contributing to skyrocketing health care costs. Today, the truth behind the myth of “defensive medicine” is front and center in the public dialogue over healthcare reform.

Today’s Bloomberg News features a story entitled, “Malpractice Lawsuits Are ‘Red Herring’ in Obama Health Plan.” Bloomberg’s Alex Nussbaum writes, “Protecting doctors from lawsuits may do more to gain political cover for President Barack Obama’s health-care overhaul than to rein in medical costs.”

Quoted in the story are a leading economist, and even an insurance industry consultant, on how making changes to the legal system will not create any cost savings. In explaining a 2005 study he conducted, Harvard University economist Amitabh Chandra, explains how “no serious economist thinks that saving money in med mal is the way to improve productivity in the system.” Additionally, Nussbaum points to an insurance study issued last month by WellPoint, Inc. which found that “liability wasn’t driving up health premiums.”

Also cited in the story is a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report on how reducing medical negligence claims would not decrease health care costs. The CBO study is in line with recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) analyses, and statements from administration officials which have shown that physicians will over-test and over-treat purely for financial reasons, unrelated to liability concerns.

In the coming weeks and months, AAJ will continue to educate members of Congress, the administration and the public on how to best protect victims of medical negligence. Eliminating the 98,000 medical errors people die from each year, not further hurting the victims of negligence, is where lawmakers should focus their attention.

As part of the education effort, AAJ issued a statement in response to President Obama address to the AMA and CNBC Reports interviewed AAJ President Les Weisbrod to discuss the administrations healthcare plan. The video of Weisbrod’s interview is embedded below. AAJ has also developed a primer on medical negligence and its role in the health care debate. It debunks myths concerning issues like “defensive medicine” and the role of the civil justice system in protecting patients. The primer can be found here.


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  1. Mike Bryant says:
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    This is information that needs to be in the for front of the discussion. The Insurance companies can not write this bill. Thanks for the information.

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