"Five dollars of every visit goes to malpractice"

The numbers don’t lie:

As a typical gynecologist, without a history of lawsuits, Dr. Schmitt said, she pays $170,000 a year. “And I don’t do obstetrics.” By her calculations, it costs $50 an hour to cover malpractice insurance costs alone; the total overhead, of course, includes charges for the office space, nurses’ salaries, and supplies. “No one’s driving Mercedeses.”

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  • Gasman

    For me in the practice of anesthesia the cost for each patient is about $50.
    If patient’s had a fully itemized bill before their care and had the option to keep their $50 in exchange for forgoing the (thankfully rare, and not yet in 15 years happened event) ability to file a lawsuit against me, how many would take the money?

    [naturally it would be impossible for me to actually offer such a deal, as my insurance is not prorated on the number of patients treated. Further, neither I nor my insurance carrier would trust any document to prevent us from legal cost. That is, even if the document is ultimately held valid, there could still be tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars of legal bills merely to establish the deal as valid. And really, what are the chances of that happening, or will the court declare it invalid for some reason?]

  • Anonymous

    Actually, that’s the question and the solution. Patients should be able to purchase their own medical malpractice insurance–and, ideally, these rates would vary according to the doctor’s prior record of error.

    Actually, I think most people would pay $50 or a lot more, if they were going to have surgery, to ensure against error.

  • IVF-MD

    To the previous commenter, there is a huge difference between assuring against error and having malpractice insurance. Just about 100% of doctors have malpractice insurance and that in no way assures against errors. Even more importantly, it certainly doesn’t assure against bad outcomes.

  • Anonymous

    Unfortunately the 50$ doesn’t insure the patient against all adverse outcomes or mishaps–only those in which malpractice by the anesthesiologist can be proven. So it isn’t the same as the patient buying his own insurance like my accident policy that will cover me if my plane crashes. If patients could buy and incident policy, the anesthesiologist would still have to have coverage since the patients insurance company, if it had to pay out, would then try to recover from the medical providers.

  • Anonymous

    The numbers don’t lie? What numbers? There were some vague claims made by a single physician, along with the usual claims of fleeing doctors, etc. Here’s a number that isn’t a lie: The CME has studied the issue and has concluded that malpractice insurance costs are less than 5% of overhead for the average physician nationwide.

    When you guys open up your income statements to show us your intake while you’re crying about your outflow, perhaps we’ll be more trusting of your “numbers”.

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