Fear of lawsuits spurs more costly care, survey, experts find

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A provider kept patients in hospice for years, overbilled for their care, charges state
A provider kept patients in hospice for years, overbilled for their care, charges state
One of the major factors for rising healthcare costs is that providers are, by their own admission, offering their patients too much care, according to a recent survey.

Forty-two percent of primary care physicians who responded to a nationwide survey — published Tuesday in the Archives of Internal Medicine — responded that they make more referrals to specialists and order more tests than they would like to, “ideally,” according to the survey. The majority —  76% —  said they do this out of fear of malpractice lawsuits.

That fear of litigation also is an issue for skilled nursing facilities, according to R. Tamara Konetzka, Ph.D., a researcher at the University of Chicago. In an Avalere Health-sponsored audio conference Tuesday, which discussed Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement alignment, Konetzka said she has seen similar concerns arise in interviews with long-term care directors of nursing and physicians. She said fear of lawsuits often spur SNFs to transfer residents to hospitals too frequently.

“The litigation issue overwhelms everything — which residents they're willing to admit, which issues they're choosing to deal with. [While] I suspect that it's different from state to state, it's an issue that needs to be addressed,” she added.
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