Help Lower the Cost of Physician Liability Insurance

Physicians Looking at X-rayFinally someone has taken the next step! For ages we have been reporting about defensive medicine and how physicians order too many unnecessary tests in an effort to protect themselves in case they are sued for physician malpractice. Because we sell physician liability coverage, we are physician advocates. And not only do we sympathize with physicians, but we understand how they feel the need to cover themselves –both out of a fear of a physician liability lawsuit and a fear of the cost of their physician liability insurance going up. To endure a malpractice lawsuit can be devastating, time consuming and financially difficult –even if a physician wins or the case is dropped! However, we also understand that ordering excessive tests results in a wasting of resources, and drives up the cost of health care. So, we have always been left asking ourselves, “What is a physician to do?” Well, finally, two organizations have tried to begin to address this problem.

The project, part of the Choosing Wisely campaign, involved nine specialties (including Family Medicine physicians) and was jointly sponsored by the American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation and (interestingly) Consumer Reports. The campaign asked the specialty organizations to select five tests that they think, in light of their typical patients, are unnecessary. The campaign has a consumer component as well (brilliant). It is educating patients to ask questions about the tests their physicians recommend.

We find that this is an excellent start for physicians lucky enough to be in one of the nine specialties that participated. We hope that these physicians will take a look at the list and consider following the suggested guidelines of not offering the tests in the situations mentioned if they are unnecessary –even if they have in the past, solely out of fear of having to use his or her physician liability insurance in a malpractice case.

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