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Georgia can lead nation with new liability model - The Marietta Daily Journal

November 21, 2012, by Jeff English

There isn't a day that goes by that doctors don't order more tests than are medically necessary to keep from being sued.

In our litigious climate where almost any patient is a potential plaintiff, doctors -- no matter how much they want to help reduce the cost of health care - almost always practice defensive medicine and order unnecessary tests and procedures. It puts their minds at rest and makes patients happy while preventing the outside chance of a lawsuit.

A recent study found that one in four dollars spent on medical care in Georgia is for unnecessary procedures such as x-rays, blood work, CT scans and MRIs. This costs consumers about $14 billion annually. Eighty-two percent of Georgia physicians said they practice defensive medicine.

And doctors too are paying the price in enormous malpractice premiums as they try to protect themselves from the next litigant.

This inefficient system is not getting any better despite modest changes to Georgia's tort laws adopted in 2005.

Escalating health care costs combined with the practice of defensive medicine make for bad outcomes in health care for both patient and doctor. The only way to cure the system is to outright replace it with a new model that is compassionate to patients and fairly compensates them if they are injured by a doctor. That model is one being proposed to the General Assembly called a Patients Compensation System.

Patients for Fair Compensation is asking Georgia lawmakers to consider a model that would remove the wedge between patient and doctor and allow physicians to choose the wisest treatment for patients.

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