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http://ssrn.com/abstract=5060
 
 

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Do Doctors Practice Defensive Medicine?


Daniel P. Kessler


Stanford Graduate School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Mark B. McClellan


Brookings Institution; Council of Economic Advisors; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)


THE QUARTERLY REVIEW OF ECONOMICS AND FINANCE (May 1996)

Abstract:     
"Defensive medicine" is a potentially serious social problem: if fear of liability drives health care providers to administer treatments that do not have worthwhile medical benefits, then the current liability system may generate inefficiencies many times greater than the costs of compensating malpractice claimants. To obtain direct empirical evidence on this question, we analyze the effects of malpractice liability reforms using data on all elderly Medicare beneficiaries treated for serious heart disease in 1984, 1987, and 1990. We find that malpractice reforms that directly reduce provider liability pressure lead to reductions of 5 to 9 percent in medical expenditures without substantial effects on mortality or medical complications. We conclude that liability reforms can reduce defensive medical practices.

JEL Classification: I11, I18, I38, K32

Accepted Paper Series


Not Available For Download

Date posted: October 26, 1999  

Suggested Citation

Kessler, Daniel P. and McClellan, Mark B., Do Doctors Practice Defensive Medicine?. THE QUARTERLY REVIEW OF ECONOMICS AND FINANCE (May 1996). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=5060

Contact Information

Daniel Philip Kessler (Contact Author)
Stanford Graduate School of Business ( email )
518 Memorial Way
Stanford, CA 94305-5015
United States
650-723-4492 (Phone)
650-725-6152 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
Mark B. McClellan
Brookings Institution ( email )
1775 Massachusetts Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20036
United States
Council of Economic Advisors ( email )
Eisenhower Executive Office Building
17th and Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20502
United States
National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )
1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
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