Defensive Medicine and Disappearing Doctors?

Increases in medical malpractice premiums and malpractice awards to plaintiffs have received considerable attention in recent years. Noting the substantial growth in medical malpractice premiums in certain states, the American Medical Association has declared 19 states to be in “full-blown medical liability crisis” and advocates tort reform to limit medical malpractice damages. While increasing malpractice liability pressures do seem to substantially increase expenditures on diagnostic procedures, we find little evidence that malpractice payments are driving the dramatic increase in overall health care expenditures.

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