For all those in government that want to see a decrease in healthcare costs but refuse to broach the topic of tort reform, a review of the obvious is in order.
According to a survey published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, physicians admit that liability, malpractice worries and quality measurement systems, compelled them to order far more tests and too many specialist referrals, just to protect themselves. (and Why should this come as a surprise…Hello?) This is confirmed in a report found in the Los Angeles Times where doctors said fear of malpractice lawsuits (76 percent) and clinical performance measures (52 percent) were the most common drivers of their more aggressive practices. Another 40 percent don’t spend enough time with their patients to figure out what’s wrong, so they ordered tests and consultations to provide answers.
Eighty-three percent of the physicians said they could be sued if they didn’t order a test that was indicated, whereas order ventolin inhaler only 21 percent said they could be sued for ordering a test that wasn’t indicated, according to the Wall Street Journal. The incentives, therefore, point toward “when in doubt, do more,” says Brenda Sirovich, an author of the study and a staff physician and research associate in the Outcomes Group at the VA Medical Center in White River Junction, Vt.
Only 3 percent said financial considerations influenced their own practice style, Reuters reports.
“I’m not saying that physicians do tests in order to make money–there is a potential to be a real cynic here–but I think that the reimbursement model for most healthcare encourages utilization in a variety of ways,” Sirovich said. “It’s a time for us to reflect about what incentives we have built into our healthcare system, and what directions they are taking us in,” she added.
When the tort system is allowed to undergo reform, only then can there truly be healthcare reform in this country.