Are Rising Healthcare Costs in Ohio a Direct Result of Increasing Litigation Rates?
Dr. John Lunn
The United States has been at the forefront of the healthcare world for years. With a system that is ever changing, keeping up with the healthcare industry can be difficult. Many argue that recent increases in healthcare cost can be attributed to the recent shift from offensive to defensive medicine. As a major transfer in the way that healthcare is being distributed in the country, defensive medicine takes the patient and their wellbeing out of the forefront of the medical industry, and places fear of malpractice litigations at the center. With increasing costs of litigations becoming a common occurrence in the United States, it is undeniable that the effect plays out in the way doctors deliver care. It is hard to deny that the effectiveness (and therefore the cost) is becoming higher than it used to be. A question that this raises, and one that I will attempt to answer is: does the increase in closed litigations (and therefore defensive medicine) drive up the cost of healthcare in the state of Ohio? The study used the Ohio closed-claim reports from 2005-2011 to analyze and draw conclusions about the litigation rates and healthcare prices in Ohio. Ohio served as the perfect testing ground, as it is internationally known for having two of the top 25 hospitals in our country—each with at least one number-one ranked program. Research suggested that defensive medicine driving up healthcare costs could be the case, but because of the small sample size that was being drawn from, the results were inconclusive. Further studies would be suggested on a national scale to see the effect of litigation behavior on per-capita spending in healthcare.
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