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defensive medicine, Chicago medical malpractice lawyerAccording to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, medical malpractice costs in the United States amount to approximately $55.6 billion each year. The majority of this money ($45.6 billion) is spent on defensive medicine—care that does not further diagnosis or treatment and is intended only to reduce the risk of a medical malpractice claim. But does this methodology really work, or are physicians simply driving up the cost of healthcare? A recent study published in the medical journal BMJ may have an answer.

The Critics’ Case Against Defensive Medicine

Despite estimates that between half and two-thirds of all U.S. doctors use defensive medicine, there is almost no evidence supporting its use. Critics of the practice also point out that a substantial fraction of medical malpractice claims actually stem from communication issues, and many contain no medical error whatsoever. And, although diagnostic errors are the leading cause of malpractice claims, most are said to be attributed to cognitive or system errors rather than a lack of resources.

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