Stories like these continue to perpetuate myths about malpractice. Whenever I interview people for CJR’s periodic town halls, they tell me tort reform is the number one solution to the problem of high medical costs. It’s hard to do the research on the cost of defensive medicine, says Robert Berenson, a health policy expert at the Urban Institute. “The Congressional Budget Office estimates that it’s about one percent of health care spending. It’s not trivial, but the notion that it’s a major cost driver is just not right.”

Trudy Lieberman is a fellow at the Center for Advancing Health and a longtime contributing editor to the Columbia Journalism Review. She is the lead writer for The Second Opinion, CJR’s healthcare desk, which is part of our United States Project on the coverage of politics and policy. Follow her on Twitter @Trudy_Lieberman.