Study: Strict Malpractice Laws Do Not Reduce Health Care Costs

Laws that make it harder to sue physicians for malpractice do not reduce hospital emergency department care costs, according a RAND Corporation study published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, Reuters reports.

The study found that:

  • Tougher limits generally did not reduce the cost or volume of ED care;
  • Legal risk does not motivate physicians as much as some previously thought ("Wonkblog," Washington Post, 10/15); and
  • While there was a 3.6% drop in Georgia ED charges, researchers noted that the strict malpractice laws provided "little (if any) change" in ED physicians' practice intensity.

"[The latest results] certainly [run] counter to most people's expectation[s]," said chief study author Daniel Waxman of the RAND Corporation.

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