Published in the New England Journal of Medicine yesterday was an article by Waxman & Ors entitled The Effect of Malpractice Reform on Emergency Department Care.

The authors appear to have set out to test the proposition that fear of malpractice lawsuits drives physicians to order otherwise unnecessary care and that legal reforms could reduce wasteful spending.

Around 10 years ago, three US states, Texas (in 2003), Georgia (in 2005), and South Carolina (in 2005), enacted legislation that changed the malpractice standard for emergency care to gross negligence. The study (more than 10 years data) concluded that the legislation that substantially changed the malpractice standard for emergency physicians in those three states had little effect on the intensity of practice, as measured by imaging (CT / MRI) rates, average charges, or hospital admission rates.

See: N Engl J Med 2014; 371:1518-1525  DOI: 10.1056/NEJMsa1313308

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