Medical expert witnesses at Medical Opinions Associates write on tort reform:
Defensive medicine is the hardest to deal with because its impact is difficult to calculate. There is no doubt that there are more medical tests being ordered for fear of medical liability then there would be otherwise. The question is what is the impact. Nobody really knows (GAO 03-836). We do know that medical insurance costs average about 3.2% of average physician revenues. We also know that 5.5% of physicians cause 57.3% of all medical malpractice payouts to patients. Do we approach the problem, as some have suggested, by not interfering with tort claims and instead going after the few transgressors?
Much study still needs to be done, but the end game will not change. As a society, we will have to decide whether we want to prevent or limit the legitimate claims of citizens damaged by medical errors by making it harder to obtain compensation for those errors, or insulate physicians and thus reduce the motivation for defensive medicine in the hope that the cost savings will justify the lost opportunities.