Prominent economist Uwe Reinhardt explains why health care costs are rising. Here's how he defines defensive medicine, which is among his four identified major cost drivers:

. . . higher treatment costs triggered by our uniquely American tort laws, which in the context of medicine can lead to "defensive medicine" "” that is, the application of tests and procedures mainly as a defense against possible malpractice litigation, rather than ...

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Not an uncommon situation for the unfortunate physician on the stand. One recommendation is to "protest such inappropriate behavior yourself," and "never allow an attorney who is questioning you to raise his voice or speak to you sarcastically or rudely." Attorney Ronald Miller says that's terrible advice:

The playing field is tilted in favor of the doctor. The very best way for a doctor to blow that lead is tell ...

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Think doctors here have it tough? More details are emerging from last week's story of the Egyptian doctor who prescribed narcotics to a Saudi princess:

Raouf Amin el-Arabi, a doctor who has been serving the Saudi royal family for about 20 years, was convicted last year of giving a patient the wrong medication. Egyptian newspapers reported that he was accused of driving a Saudi princess "to addiction." He initially was ...

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The head of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute responds to the $13.5 million verdict awarded to a family during a malpractice trial:

We all know that cancer is a terrible disease that still claims far too many lives. Unfortunately, even as we work intensely to develop newer, more effective treatments, we aren't always successful and complications can arise. That does not mean that we did anything wrong, something that juries less ...

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"See your primary care doctor" isn't good enough advice anymore, since not all patients have one, or will follow-up on their own.

A workers' compensation physician noted a markedly elevated ferritin level, and was successfully sued for missing hemochromatosis. He had told the patient to follow up with his primary care doctor.

The same scenario could easily happen in the emergency or specialist setting. Actually making ...

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A solo rheumatologist was not willing to pay the $150 to $200 per visit fee an American Sign Language interpreter would have cost to treat a deaf patient, especially in the setting where Medicare paid only $49 per visit.

He was sued as the patient didn't understand the side effects of the medications he was prescribing for her lupus:

But the patient claimed she never really understood the side-effects ...

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Single payer to fix malpractice?

Advocates are saying that a single payer system man be an answer to solve malpractice woes:

She noted that if health care was guaranteed through government funding there would be no need for malpractice suits and settlements to take into account the future health care costs of plaintiffs. This is particularly important in obstetrical cases given the future medical interventions and life expectancy of these babies.
For physicians to ...

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Op-ed: Wasted medical dollars

The following op-ed was published on April 23rd, 2008 in the USA Today. A recent analysis by PricewaterhouseCoopers concluded that more than half the dollars in our $2.2 trillion health care system are wasted. Medical errors, inefficient use of information technology and poorly managed chronic diseases were all cited as factors. Dwarfing these reasons is a phenomenon in which doctors order tests to avoid the threat of a ...

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The candidates on tort reform

The whole issue of tort reform is pretty much DOA now. If it couldn't be done in the past 8 years, it's certainly not going to happen with the next administration. That being said, here's are McCain and Obama's take on the issue.

Rather than caps, physicians should be pushing for more expedient compensation to injured patients. No-fault malpractice would be an ideal solution, providing quicker ...

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Baseless lawsuits

Why is Shadowfax's physician group settling baseless lawsuits?

What can we do? When you are at Yellowstone, they tell you not to feed the bears because it just encourages them. But that metaphor doesn't work when the alternative is to let the bear maul you and hope that he won't get all of your food.
What is more concerning is the lengthy process of the proceedings. Patients who are ...

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