The state of medical malpractice
I like David Leonhardt's writing, and I think his assessment today of the state of medical malpractice is mostly pretty fair.
Of the conservative arguments on this matter, the defensive medicine one is one of the few that I think has some merit, though even there it's pretty limited. A 2004 CBO brief Leonhardt points to essentially says that in some realms of medicine there are costs to un-necessary 'defensive' procedures, though in other areas of medicine there aren't. It depends on what kind of doctor we're talking.
CBO puts it as: "On the basis of existing studies and its own research, CBO believes that savings from reducing defensive medicine would be very small."
The bigger picture reality is this, from Leonhardt:
Medical errors happen more frequently here than in other rich countries, as the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently found. Only a tiny share of victims receive compensation.