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Study released on liability of health care providers

A study recently published in a medical journal examines why medical malpractice lawsuits may escalate due to cost containment decisions. The study was conducted using doctors in Florida, and a pattern may point out that doing more testing may result in a decreased likelihood of a malpractice lawsuit in Oregon and around the country.

The study was undertaken for nine years and included more than 24,000 physicians in Florida. The results demonstrated a lower rate of malpractice lawsuits for doctors in six specialty areas who spent the most resources on their patients who had been hospitalized. No conclusion was reached as to why those physicians who conducted more medical tests were less likely to encounter a malpractice lawsuit.

Liability is a matter of concern for physicians, and the cost of acting defensively to avoid malpractice lawsuits is estimated at around $60 billion yearly. According to the study, those physicians with less expensive hospital care charges were sued more often, and those who used medical resources more were sued less. For example, obstetricians who performed the most C-sections were around 50 percent less apt to be sued for malpractice.

Because this study was conducted in one state, it remains unclear whether added spending for tests was related to the lower rate of lawsuits. Study limitations, pointed out by two individuals from a New York medical college, might include physicians who conducted more testing because of previous problems with malpractice lawsuits.

A patient who believes he or she has been a victim of hospital negligence may want to speak with an attorney who has experience in medical malpractice litigation. Legal counsel can often examine the patient’s hospital records and, after consulting with medical experts, make a determination as to whether or not the health care facility exhibited the requisite standard of care. If it did not, the attorney can assist in seeking compensation for the patient’s losses.