A new study shows that even in states with medical liability caps, doctors still fear getting sued and because of this order more diagnostic tests. The researches “linked survey data on physician perceptions of malpractice risk to their ordering data and found that physicians had higher rates of diagnostic imaging ordering for patients with lower back pain and headache if they were more concerned about their malpractice risk. But the researchers did not find that defensive ordering declined when states enacted tort reforms such as damage caps.”
The article in Family Practice News tries to make this out at groundbreaking but why? No one wants to be sued. It is devastating to your career, to your family life, to your emotional life and everything in-between. Doctors are human. Here is one of my favorite quotes from the piece:
“It’s possible that at this point in specialties like emergency medicine, defensive care has been so baked into training and routine that even people who think they are not very defensive are still being defensive,” Dr. Carrier said.
Oh, we’re baked all right. Doctors have been burned in this issue so many times that they reflexly order tests knowing that they are a target for a lawsuit at any moment (cap or not). One doctor in the article makes a great point in that she “hopes that there will be more study of alternative tort reform strategies such as ‘safe harbors’ for physicians who follow evidence-based practice guidelines.”
Here’s to SAFE HARBORS! Until then, CT scans for everyone! And it’s on the house.