"The practice patterns of individual clinicians are fundamental determinants of the quality, ethical standards, and cost-effectiveness of health services" ( Logan & Scott, 1996, p. 595). Physicians' practice patterns are influenced by a wide variety of factors, both conscious and subconscious. For at least the last century and a half, physicians have insisted that one of those factors--mainly negative in effect--is the pervasive anxiety and apprehension physicians experience about potential malpractice litigation and legal liability connected to the care that they provide to their patients ( Mohr, 1993, pp. 109-121; Wachsman, 1993, p. 161).
Physicians as well as other health care professionals in the United States are constantly complaining about lawyers and the persistent Possibility of being held legally liable for decisions made and actions taken in the course of caring for patients. The vast majority of practicing physicians have long told anyone who would listen that apprehension about potential litigation and liability influences medical professionals to practice "defensively," and therefore wastefully in an economic sense.
Although they are nothing new, these complaints lately have intensified in bitterness and broadened in scope. The primary claim used to focus on the financial waste entailed in practicing defensive medicine.