Michael J. Sacopulos, Esq.

According to a poll conducted by the American College of Emergency Physicians, nearly half of emergency physicians, 44 percent, say the biggest obstacle to cutting costs in emergency departments is overcoming the fear of lawsuits. The poll, made up of 1,800 emergency physicians, also found that more than half of physicians, 53 percent, state that the reason they conduct the number of tests they do is due to the fear of being sued.

The study also stated that specialists cite the fear of being sued as one of the top reasons they will not treat emergency patients.

Of these poll participants, over 40 percent believe that the number of patients in emergency departments has significantly increased over the past year. Why are so many people many people visiting the emergency room instead of their primary care doctor or a specialist? Well, the poll participants overwhelming believe it is due to the increase in patients without healthcare coverage.

With unemployment numbers on the rise, one can only speculate that the number of people relying on emergency rooms for their primary care will also rise. Which, will lead to more and more tests being performed by emergency room physicians because they are afraid of being sued. Given the scope and magnitude of the problem, it is difficult to image meaningful healthcare reform without addressing medical malpractice litigation.