ACCESS TO JUSTICE

» Fair Arbitration

» Patient Safety and Medical Liability

» Preserving State Consumer Laws

» Whistleblower Protections


Sign Up

to receive regular updates on our campaigns for access to justice and consumer protection.


Recent Reports

February 27, 2014 - Righting a Financial Wrong
Sept. 20, 2013 - Private Actions, Public Benefits
Aug. 6, 2013 - No Correlation
Oct. 8, 2012 - Armed Forces and Forced Arbitration

More - See More Access to Justice Reports

Defensive Medicine: The Doctored Crisis

March 30, 2011 — Proposals to limit medical malpractice liability are a perennial feature of health care debates. At present, the principal claim of those seeking to limit liability is that malpractice liability causes massive extra costs through “defensive medicine”: Fear of litigation leads doctors to exercise grossly excessive caution, ordering unnecessary tests and procedures. Current House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) claimed in 2010 that “medical malpractice and the defensive medicine that doctors practice” is the “biggest cost driver” in all of medicine. Is Rep. Boehner correct? The reliable empirical evidence paints a vastly different picture.

This report, based on reliable published studies, covers the following topics:

  • The most empirically sound, evidence-based studies of defensive medicine usually find that its role is small.
  • Factors other than defensive medicine, such as financial incentives to order more tests, offer much better explanations for many of the practices that liability opponents deem defensive.
  • Defensive medicine cannot be driving the fast-paced growth of health care costs be-cause the costs of diagnostic testing — the principal type of purported defensive medicine — are small in proportion to overall health care spending.
  • Malpractice litigation has declined, but the decline has not slowed the growth of health care costs. Malpractice litigation is at the lowest level on record, and there is no evidence that the decline in litigation has slowed the growth of health care costs. This may because fear of litigation is unrelated to actual risk of litigation.

Read the press release

Read the report (PDF)

Copyright © 2014 Public Citizen. Some rights reserved. Non-commercial use of text and images in which Public Citizen holds the copyright is permitted, with attribution, under the terms and conditions of a Creative Commons License. This Web site is shared by Public Citizen Inc. and Public Citizen Foundation. Learn More about the distinction between these two components of Public Citizen.


Public Citizen, Inc. and Public Citizen Foundation

 

Together, two separate corporate entities called Public Citizen, Inc. and Public Citizen Foundation, Inc., form Public Citizen. Both entities are part of the same overall organization, and this Web site refers to the two organizations collectively as Public Citizen.

Although the work of the two components overlaps, some activities are done by one component and not the other. The primary distinction is with respect to lobbying activity. Public Citizen, Inc., an IRS § 501(c)(4) entity, lobbies Congress to advance Public Citizen’s mission of protecting public health and safety, advancing government transparency, and urging corporate accountability. Public Citizen Foundation, however, is an IRS § 501(c)(3) organization. Accordingly, its ability to engage in lobbying is limited by federal law, but it may receive donations that are tax-deductible by the contributor. Public Citizen Inc. does most of the lobbying activity discussed on the Public Citizen Web site. Public Citizen Foundation performs most of the litigation and education activities discussed on the Web site.

You may make a contribution to Public Citizen, Inc., Public Citizen Foundation, or both. Contributions to both organizations are used to support our public interest work. However, each Public Citizen component will use only the funds contributed directly to it to carry out the activities it conducts as part of Public Citizen’s mission. Only gifts to the Foundation are tax-deductible. Individuals who want to join Public Citizen should make a contribution to Public Citizen, Inc., which will not be tax deductible.

 

To become a member of Public Citizen, click here.
To become a member and make an additional tax-deductible donation to Public Citizen Foundation, click here.