Doctors who provide costly treatments are less likely to face a lawsuit from their patients due to malpractice, says a new study published in the British Medical Journal.
Researchers found that doctors in Florida who provided the most costly care between 2000 and 2009 were also least likely to be sued between 2001 and 2010.
‘The study showed that the higher spending physicians get sued less often than low spending physicians. However, the study cannot say for sure whether higher spending is a result of practicing defensive medicine.’
However, the study could not say whether the extra expenditures from these medicos were measures taken with defensive medicine as the sole consideration.
"If you look at doctors who spend more in a given specialty, higher spending physicians get sued less often than low spending physicians. By no means would I consider it to be conclusive, but it does signal to us that defensive medicine could work in lowering malpractice risk, but more research is needed to know if that's true or not," said lead author Dr. Anupam Jena from the Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston.
The research has a limitation because the researchers did not have much information on how severe the patients' illnesses were. The study also cannot say for sure whether higher spending is a result of practicing defensive medicine.
Jena said that, the findings showed that higher spending by doctors is associated with lower claims, but anything more than that they cannot tell.
The study looked into the data of more than 24,000 physicians who have been part of over 18.3 million cases of hospital admissions. Of the clinicians, 4342 malpractice claims were made against them.