Few things unite physicians as much as the belief that the current malpractice tort system is seriously broken. The litany of complaints is long and familiar: many suits are without merit; the cost of malpractice defense forces settlements even when the “medicine” was good if the outcome was bad; lawyers take too big a slice of the financial pie; we are all forced to practice defensively to avoid getting sued, thereby driving up the cost of health care. Of all of these, the belief that malpractice fear drives physicians to overtest and overtreat seems nearly universally held. Even so, there has been very little evidence to support it, and efforts to quantify the impact of “defensive medicine” on health care costs have been largely speculative. Continue reading Fear of Malpractice Claims and Defensive Medicine
The United States has a prescription drug problem. Drug-induced deaths have been rising rapidly, and according to the National Center for Health Statistics now surpass deaths from firearms, suicide and homicide. Of those drug-induced deaths, opioid analgesics are implicated in more deaths than heroin and cocaine combined. The newspapers are full of stories of communities in decline from the growing prevalence of drug-dependency and associated crime.
In response to this growing problem, New York State has enacted a new law governing prescription drugs, called the Internet System for Tracking Over-Prescribing, or I-STOP. The key provision of the law, which goes in to effect on August 27, mandates that anyone prescribing controlled substances must first look up the intended recipient in online database maintained by the State Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement. Continue reading New I-STOP Law