Liability in the ER
Side Note: ER physicians, like all physicians, don’t want to have to use their physician liability coverage. But, would you like your emergency room physician not only thinking about how to save your life but also thinking about how to cover himself in case you decide to sue him at the same time? No, I wouldn’t either. While I generally love the idea of multitasking, this is one case where I don’t.
In a recent study of 1800 emergency room physicians, more than half of them said that they order extra tests out of a fear of being sued. But, who could blame them? The emergency room is a unique place: it often sees the most critically ill patients and often medical records and/or histories are not immediately available for those patients, thus making the chances of an error occurring significantly higher. And, as a result, this has impacted the availability of on-call specialists in the emergency department. Many specialists are now refusing to be on call in the ER or consult on ER patients –thus potentially upping the medical liability for emergency room physicians even further. For a nice discussion of the study and information on how medical malpractice tort reform could help, read on for details.
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Want to Cut Costs in the ER? Pass Medical Liability Reform
By: PR Newswire Association LLC
Posted: May 23, 2011
WASHINGTON, May 23, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Nearly half (44 percent) of almost 1,800 emergency physicians responding to a poll report that the biggest challenge to cutting costs in the emergency department is the fear of lawsuits. Even more respondents (53 percent) said the main reason they conduct the number of tests they do is the fear of being sued.
“Medical liability reform is essential to meaningful health care reform,” said ACEP’s president, Sandra Schneider, MD, FACEP. “Without it, health care costs will continue to rise. Estimates on the costs of defensive medicine range from $60 billion to $151 billion per year. That dwarfs total expenditures on emergency care, which at $47.3 billion in 2008 represented just 2 percent of all health care spending.”