Most U.S. Physicians Practicing 'Defensive Medicine'

MONDAY, June 28 (HealthDay News) -- Most American doctors believe their colleagues order more patient tests and procedures than needed, to protect themselves against lawsuits, a new national survey shows.

Researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City queried 2,416 physicians and found that 91% think this type of "defensive medicine" is the norm. In addition, 90.7% of the respondents believe better protection against unwarranted malpractice suits is necessary to reduce the number of unnecessary medical tests.

"About $60 billion is spent annually on defensive medicine, and many physicians feel they are vulnerable to malpractice lawsuits even when they practice competently within the standard of care," study co-author Dr. Tara Bishop, an associate general internal medicine, said in a Mount Sinai news release.

"The study shows that an overwhelming majority of physicians support tort reform to decrease malpractice lawsuits and that unnecessary testing -- a contributor to rising health care costs -- will not decrease without it," she added.

The national survey included U.S. physicians from a wide variety of practice and specialty backgrounds.

The findings appear in the June 28 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

-- Robert Preidt

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SOURCE: Mount Sinai School of Medicine, June 28, 2010, news release.

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