Physicians Sound Off on the High Price of Defensive Medicine in U.S.

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According to A Costly Defense, a new eBook released by Jackson Healthcare, the economic and non-economic impacts of defensive medicine may be significantly greater than previously estimated.

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As we began to dig into understanding physician attitudes on defensive medicine, it became obvious to us that this was a major issue not being addressed by healthcare reform initiatives.

Not only are the vast majority of physicians practicing defensive medicine in the U.S., more and more younger physicians are taught to do so by mentors and peers. According to A Costly Defense, a new eBook released by Jackson Healthcare, the economic and non-economic impacts of defensive medicine may be significantly greater than previously estimated.

For example, physicians estimate the cost of defensive medicine to be between 26 and 34 percent of annual total healthcare costs. At an estimated $2.5 trillion in annual spending, this means $650-850 billion is spent each year on medically unnecessary care. To date, experts have believed that three percent, or $60 billion, of overall healthcare spending is wasteful.

“As we began to dig into understanding physician attitudes on defensive medicine, it became obvious to us that this was a major issue not being addressed by healthcare reform initiatives,” said Richard Jackson, chairman and chief executive officer of Jackson Healthcare. “Defensive medicine has far-reaching impacts beyond costs.”

In addition to driving up the costs of healthcare, physicians reported that defensive medicine limits access to certain patients, drives over- and under-treatment, delays adoption of medical innovations and negatively impacts the supply and satisfaction of physicians.

According to Jackson, “The traditional approach to defensive medicine has been tort reform in the form of damage caps. That is not a sustainable solution, and it only addresses the tip of a very large iceberg of costs.”

Jackson’s physician data was gathered from a series of online physician surveys conducted between October 2009 and May 2010. The eBook, A Costly Defense, can be downloaded for free and without registration at http://www.jacksonhealthcare.com/research/defensive-medicine-ebook.html.

For more information contact Keith Jennings at 678.690.7942 or kjennings(at)jacksonhealthcare(dot)com.

About Jackson Healthcare
Founded by the healthcare innovator Richard Jackson, Jackson Healthcare serves more than two million patients in nearly one thousand hospitals each year. The Jackson family of companies provides physician and clinician staffing, anesthesia management, hospital management and healthcare information technology solutions proven to improve clinical and financial outcomes, as well as increase operational efficiency. Jackson Healthcare has earned national media coverage for its physician polls and champions local and international charitable work. In addition, Jackson has been recognized as one of the largest and fastest growing staffing companies in the country by the Inc. Magazine, Atlanta Business Chronicle, Georgia Trend and Staffing Industry Analysts. For more information about Jackson and its companies, visit JacksonHealthcare.com.

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