Chris Rangel on how defensive medicine has changed the practice of medicine:
The practice of emergency medicine (among other high risk specialties) has become so regimented and infused with defensive medicine tactics that many ER docs are not even aware of how this has changed the way they think. It seemed as if this ER physician could not fathom the concept that we would send home a patient who could easily have just had a heart attack despite the fact that we were going to do absolutely nothing different for her then if she went home. Even though the possibility of litigation in this case was remote it was the constant and overall threat of litigation that has fundamentally changed the thinking of physicians and how they practice medicine.
This change in thinking has had significant consequences. Ever wonder why we spend so much on medical care? Part of the answer lies in this example. This ER doc was about to turn an $800 ER visit into a $4,000 hospital admission. Now imagine this happening all over the country in multiple variations and degrees of absurdity tens of thousands of times EVERY DAY.