Several months ago, this blog reported on efforts at Seattle's Virginia Mason Medical Center to reduce the use of expensive imaging tests in the treatment of back pain, and a reader questioned whether this had led to a corresponding increase in "failure to diagnose" lawsuits.
What they don't have is a failure to diagnose
It took about half a year, but I finally got an answer: No.
"We have no evidence to suggest increased failure-to-diagnose" claims as a result of the hospital following evidence-based guidelines for using magnetic-resonance imaging tests, said Virginia Mason President and CEO Dr. Gary Kaplan, who graciously answered the question while I was interviewing him about something else.
In fact, Kaplan said that instead of seeing the number of lawsuits rise, the center has seen malpractice premiums decline.
Through the center's Back Pain Collaborative, Virginia Mason reduced the number of lower-back MRIs it performed to 1,308 in 2007 from 1,886 in 2004. (At about $1,000 each, that represented a loss of about $578,000.)
Financial figures were not provided, but a spokeswoman said the hospital has reduced professional liability insurance premiums by 56% from 2004 to 2011.
Follow Andis Robeznieks on Twitter: @MHARobeznieks.
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