KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Survey Of Doctors Suggests Widespread ‘Defensive Medicine’

HealthDay/Bloomberg Businessweek reports that a new survey published in the Archives of Internal Medicine shows that 91 percent of 2,416 doctors believe their colleagues practice defensive medicine by giving patients more tests and treatments as a means of protecting themselves from lawsuits. "In addition, 90.7 percent of the respondents believe better protection against unwarranted malpractice suits is necessary to reduce the number of unnecessary medical tests" (Preidt, 6/28). 

Survey co-author Dr. Tara Bishop of Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, "noted that defensive medicine is estimated to cost the U.S. health care system billions of dollars each year, and said many doctors worry they could be sued even when they follow standard-of-care guidelines," The Associated Press reports. Meanwhile, Helen Haskell, a patient advocate and member of Mothers Against Medical Errors, said, "I think they certainly believe that, but at the same time the overtesting is both easy and profitable for them rather than spending time with the patient ... to get to the root of things" (Tanner, 6/28).

The full survey is available on the website of the Archives of Internal Medicine.
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