The escalating cost of medical care in the United States, especially in the past decade, has resulted in efforts to identify the factors contributing to rising costs. One factor often assumed to cause higher medical costs is the physician’s fear of liability for not using the latest available technology. In this article, we report the results of a case study we conducted to better understand the relationship between the introduction and use of one particular technology, low-osmolar contrast agents, and liability concerns. Our study suggests that both clinicians and administrators are primarily guided by the medical benefits of low-osmolar contrast agents, and that liability concerns, although widespread, are of secondary importance. The inability to control this and similar technologies is likely to put a far greater strain on the nation’s health care resources than is the practice of defensive medicine. These findings may be helpful to health policy makers, physicians, administrators, and legislators considering choices for health care reform in general and for medical liability reform in particular.

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