In the comments of this post, MD/PhD Student raised many different medical-legal issues. My response grew so long, I decided to give it its own post:
…I see med-mal as a reason why medical costs are rapidly increasing. Malpractice insurance premiums, while obscene, are not the biggest factor in this increase. Instead, from what I have seen and been told by physicians, unnecessary (and extremely expensive) tests are routinely ordered to cover the one-in-a-million possibility of disease so that doctors can more successfully defend themselves if sued.
As a general practice, premiums go up when the stock market goes down and vice versa. Insurance companies make their money there. Try this link: Medical Malpractice Insurers Price-Gouged Doctors During This Decade as well as the links at the end of that post.
One reason that doctors feel the need to practice CYA medicine (and the reason that many bloggers have speculated Flea settled the case) is the perception that juries are easily swayed by charismatic lawyers and sympathetic patients and are reputed to ignore science and medicine when making decisions.
Research actually says otherwise, that jurors give doctors the benefit of the doubt more often than other defendants: Juries and Doctors: Not What You Think and Doctors and Juries.
While tort reform is an idea I strongly support, might there not be another way to mitigate frivolous lawsuits and unconscionably large awards (and in so doing, reduce the cost of malpractice insurance and CYA medicine)?
Two more links for you:
The Myth of Frivolous Litigation and How New York Caps Personal Injury Damages
What would your opinion be on have something like a “medical court” where grievances can be brought to be heard by a panel of judges and physicians who are more likely to be swayed by actual facts and true damages than emotional appeals and theatrics?