Much of what has been driving the whole “healthcare reform” debate that we’ve been talking about lately (here, here, here) has been unfounded concerns that doctors are ordering too many tests due to liability concerns. Never mind that the GAO, CBO and others have repeatedly debunked this so-called “defensive medicine” myth, with one study noting that less than 8 percent of all diagnostic procedures are likely to be caused primarily by liability concerns.
Sometimes the best way to talk about the issue by showing a real example.
Consider Courtney Hill, 22, of Memphis, TN:
In 2003, Hill called her gynecologist's office to complain of a lump with possible dimpling, according to a statement prepared by [Hill's attorney]. The statement goes on to say that a receptionist made note of the complaint and was advised by Moise to tell Hill not to worry about it until she came back for her next check-up. At her appointment two weeks later, Hill reminded Moise of the lump. Moise did not order a mammogram and told her it was most likely a cyst or fatty deposit. Hill became pregnant and noticed that after having the baby, the lump seemed worse. She scheduled an appointment at the office and was treated by Moise's partner, Dr. Paula Pilgrim. Subsequent mammogram and ultrasound results confirmed that Hill had breast cancer, and it had already spread to her liver.Hill sued her gynecologist (despite being too weak to testify in person) and a jury found Dr. Moise liable. So next time you hear bogus arguments that there is "too much" diagnostic testing being done on patients, think about Courtney Hill.