Wow. According to preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control, it looks like visits to the emergency department were up by 13 million from 2008 to 2009. Why you may ask? Or, actually, as a physician, you probably wouldn’t ask…you already know why. Yes, fear of medical liability and having to use one’s emergency med mal coverage is the reason. And, according to another study mentioned in the same article, admissions were up, too.
In our medically litigious society, all physicians have it tough, but emergency room docs have it especially tough. They get it from all sides and, understandably, their fear of medical liability is high. Often times, they are flying blind, without a patient’s medical history, often with very few details of how the current situation came to be, and little time to act. And, add to that the potential for a patient’s primary care or other physician who may be called first by the patient and is then, out of their fear of potential medical liability, simply sent to the emergency room. Finally, also add the emergency room physician’s own fears of litigation (and having to use his or her emergency med mal coverage) if a patient is wrongly discharged. Thus, it’s easy to see why emergency departments visits and admissions are up. As a result, like all of us here at MyMedicalMalpracticeInsurance.com, the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) is calling for medical liability reform to reduce the high rate and cost of ED visits and admissions. A nice side-effect of this could be to lower the cost of emergency med mal coverage for physicians. But, will anyone answer the call? To reduce the practice of defensive medicine is no easy task (without implementing massive, large-scale liability reform) and we don’t have the answers.
If you are an emergency department physician and would like to save on your emergency med mal coverage, contact us today.