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The Impact of Malpractice Risk on the Use of Obstetrics Procedures

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  • Beomsoo Kim

Abstract

Recent malpractice premium hikes and federal tort reform proposals have focused attention on medical liability costs. One frequent justification for tort reform proposals is the potential impact of liability on defensive medicine. There is, however, scant and conflicting evidence on whether malpractice risk alters physician practices. In this paper, I examine whether malpractice risk alters the procedure choices of obstetricians, who face one of the highest rates of malpractice lawsuits among medical specialties. By focusing on obstetricians, I can observe the impact of malpractice risk on the use of procedures such as cesarean sections, prenatal care visits, diagnostic tests, and so on. Because the measured malpractice risk may signal something unobserved about physician quality or practice style, I use malpractice claims against doctors with specialties other than obstetrics and gynecology (ob-gyn) as an instrument for ob-gyn claims. I find that cesarean section rates and most other measures of physician behavior are not sensitive to medical malpractice risk. (c) 2007 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved..

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File URL: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/pdf/10.1086/520069
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal The Journal of Legal Studies.

Volume (Year): 36 (2007)
Issue (Month): S2 (06)
Pages: S79-S119

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlstud:v:36:y:2007:i:s2:p:s79-s119

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Web page: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/JLS/

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Cited by:
  1. Beomsoo Kim, 2010. "Do Doctors Induce Demand?," Pacific Economic Review, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 15(4), pages 554-575, October.
  2. Andrew Friedson & Thomas Kniesner, 2012. "Losers and losers: Some demographics of medical malpractice tort reforms," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 45(2), pages 115-133, October.
  3. Sloan, Frank A. & Shadle, John H., 2009. "Is there empirical evidence for "Defensive Medicine"? A reassessment," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 481-491, March.
  4. Daniel P. Kessler, 2011. "Evaluating the Medical Malpractice System and Options for Reform," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(2), pages 93-110, Spring.
  5. Janet Currie & W. Bentley MacLeod, 2008. "First Do No Harm? Tort Reform and Birth Outcomes," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 123(2), pages 795-830, 05.

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