OVERVIEW

Between October 2009 and March 2010, Jackson Healthcare conducted a series of national physician surveys to quantify and qualify physician attitudes, perceptions and recommendations regarding healthcare reform and defensive medicine practices.

Physicians estimated that between $650 billion and $850 billion are spent each year on medically unnecessary tests and treatments in an effort to avoid lawsuits.  In addition, significant consequences surfaced beyond wasted costs, consequences negatively impacting the physician/patient relationship.

In March 2010, Jackson Healthcare conducted its third national physician online survey to quantify the impact of defensive medicine beyond cost, including the areas of access, quality and innovation.

Key Findings from Jackson Healthcare Survey (Phase III)

  • 76 percent of respondents reported that defensive medicine decreases patients’ access to healthcare.
  • 72 percent of respondents reported that the practice of defensive medicine negatively impacts patient care.
  • 71 percent of respondents reported that defensive medicine has had a negative effect on the way they view patients.
  • 67 percent of respondents reported that defensive medicine comes between the doctor and patient.
  • 57 percent of respondents reported that defensive medicine hampers their decision-making ability.
  • 49 percent of respondents reported that defensive medicine has a negative impact on medical innovation.  Likewise, 53 percent reported delaying adoption of new techniques/procedures/treatments due to fear of a lawsuit.
  • Defensive medicine is now being taught as standard medical practice.  The survey found that 83 percent of physicians ages 25 to 34 reported being taught in medical school or residency (by an attending physician or mentor) to avoid lawsuits.
  • Patients most likely affected by defensive medicine are 1) those requiring surgery, 2) women and 3) those visiting emergency rooms.
  • Surgeons and OB/GYNs are most affected by lawsuits.
    • 83 percent of OB/GYN respondents have been named in lawsuits
    • 79 percent of surgeons and surgery subspecialists respondents have been named in a lawsuit
    • 68 percent of emergency room physician respondents have been named in a lawsuit
  • Of the physicians surveyed, 75 percent reported that defensive medicine will impact the physician shortage by decreasing the number of physicians in the U.S.

Jackson Healthcare Survey Methodology

In March 2009, Jackson Healthcare invited 124,572 physicians to participate in a confidential online survey in an effort to quantify the costs and impact of defensive medicine.  Over 1,400 physicians spanning all states and medical specialties completed the survey, a 1.13 percent response rate.  The survey error range is at the 95% confidence level: +/-1.7 percent.

Download a printer friendly version of this summary here: