Many physicians look for tort reform and would love to see it as part of any future health reform. I admit that it would be nice to not have to worry about lawsuits when I'm working with patients. However, I don't know that tort reform would save much money.
The CBO estimated comprehensive malpractice reform would save the government $54 billion over 10 yrs. However, the government pays $636 billion each year for healthcare costs.
One trillion is 1,000 billions; that means that $54 billion over 10 yrs / $6.36 trillion ($6,360 billion) over 10 yrs: I'm bad at math, but I get a 0.85% savings in healthcare costs from tort reform. Would that really make any drop in the bucket?
I think that if we were to have some ability to ensure that if we practice good medicine we would be protected in case of a bad outcome (such as some sort of safe harbor that if evidence-based guidelines are followed a physician would be protected from suit), this could impact practice patterns. So would reform that allowed physicians to actually spend the necessary time with patients to form long-term relationships, to discuss treatment options and truly engage in shared decision-making, and to allow for follow-up and adjustments to treatment plans when needed. This sort of reform--that put patient care above procedures, volume, etc--would likely make an even greater impact on patient care and (I think) have a bigger impact on practice patterns.
I learned in medical school that if a patient likes you, they are less likely to sue you. And if you actually sit and talk to a patient--and listen to them--they are more likely to like you. And you're much likely to provide better care, and the care the patient needed.