Physicians Who Provide More Costly Care May Face Fewer Malpractice Claims

November 13, 2015 | Strategic Insights for Ambulatory Care


​Greater use of healthcare resources, as typically occurs in the practice of defensive medicine, is associated with lower rates of malpractice allegations, state the authors of an observational study posted online November 4, 2015, by BMJ. The authors linked data from over 18 million acute care hospital admissions in Florida from 2000-2009 to the malpractice history of the corresponding attending physician; in six of seven specialties examined, higher physician spending negatively correlated with the probability of malpractice allegations the following year. For example, the overall rate of malpractice allegations was 2.8% per physician, per year. However, the probability of an allegation against an internist was 1.5% for the lowest-spending fifth of the sample while the probability for the highest-spending fifth was 0.3%. Additionally, analysis of the risk-adjusted rate of cesarean section childbirths among obstetricians, a procedure the authors state is "sometimes considered to be defensively motivated," revealed that obstetricians with higher rates of cesarean section births faced fewer allegations of malpractice.

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