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Nine of 10 doctors practice defensive medicine — ordering unneeded laboratory and diagnostic tests, referring patients to consultations they don't need, performing procedures that aren't called for, sending patients to hospitals without cause — to avoid being sued, not to benefit their clientele.

Suit-happy attorneys have also helped weaken patient safety. To shield themselves, doctors often order unnecessary imaging tests that increase radiation exposure and can cause severe allergic reactions to contrast dye, and perform or arrange surgeries, such as Caesarean sections, when textbook care indicates they're not needed. [You can thank John Edwards for that last bit].

Since trial lawyers have the second biggest ownership position in the Democratic Party (after unions), don't look for health care costs to moderate any time soon.

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