Each Chicago medical malpractice lawyer at our firm has heard the argument ad infinitum about Illinois medical malpractice lawsuits causing rising medical costs in the state. The statement has been made so many times that, even though there is little to no evidence to suggest anything of the sort, many community members believe it to be true. The reality is far more complicated and involves the conduct of insurance companies, medical care providers, and those who make money off of certain medical treatments being provided.
It is illogical and harmful for those in a position to address the medical cost issue to waste so much time and energy attacking the chimera of medical malpractice lawsuits. Instead, attention should be drawn to the real ways to address costs by providing necessary care in efficient ways. Toward that end, an interesting PBS story recently discussed the “45 Top Ways to Cut Health Care Costs.” The project is focused on ensuring that unnecessary care not be provided to residents in certain situations. In this way it is a logical approach that discusses the root of the problem which is the care itself.
The impetus for the story is a new “Choosing Wisely” campaign announced this week by nine of the nation’s top medical societies. In addition, the American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation and Consumer Reports have added their names to the project to provide more efficient medical care. The campaign announcement points out that projections from the Congressional Budget Office suggest that up to thirty percent of medical care in the U.S. is essentially unnecessary or harmful. Therefore, rooting out this needless care will not only save money but actually save lives.
Our Illinois medical malpractice attorneys have previously noted that the “defensive medicine” claim to attack the civil justice system misses the point. Tort law is rooted in reasonableness, not arbitrary rules that dictate what procedures have to take place no matter what. There is no incompatibility with providing only appropriate care and respecting the civil justice system. It is encouraging to see this launch from medical providers that discusses the issue of unnecessary treatments without invoking the tort reform chimera.
In its launch the group lists 45 different procedures that doctors should give more thought to before performing. They do not suggest that these tests are unnecessary, but they do indicate that these procedures are often performed without warrant-in some cases placing patients in harm as a result. Each involved medical specialty provided its own sort list of procedures. The full list can be read here.
For example, the American College of Cardiology suggests that performance of stress cardiac imaging or advanced non-invasive imaging in initial patient evaluations are unnecessary unless there are high-risk markers in the patient. The American College of Radiology recommends that imaging for uncomplicated headaches not take place.
Taken together the list is a good starting point to being a serious discussion about the proper balance between necessary, reasonable care and harmful excessive treatments. All efforts that discuss medical cost concerns in fair-minded ways that address the entirety of the problem should be welcomed.
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