This is an archived article that was published on in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The article "Study: Only 1 in 5 medical malpractice cases pay" (Tribune, Aug. 17) reported that "most physicians and virtually every surgeon will face at least one malpractice lawsuit in their careers." This alarming statistic is an important driver of rising U.S. health care costs.

Even though most sued doctors are found innocent, 93 percent of all doctors admit practicing defensive medicine — ordering unnecessary tests, referrals and procedures — to protect themselves from the threat of a lawsuit. Such practices add $191 billion in unnecessary health care costs every year.

By making care and thus insurance more expensive, defensive medicine has added 3.4 million Americans to the rolls of the uninsured.

Lawrence J. McQuillan Director, business and economic studies Pacific Research Institute

San Francisco