Young Physicians Taught to Practice Defensive Medicine, Survey Finds

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According to a new national survey of physicians by Jackson Healthcare, the vast majority of physicians between the ages of 25 and 34 report being taught to practice defensive medicine.

Jackson Healthcare
Older physicians are sharing lawsuit stories and advice with younger physicians. These stories are convincing younger physicians to practice defensive medicine.

According to a new national survey of physicians by Jackson Healthcare , the vast majority of physicians between the ages of 25 and 34 report being taught to practice defensive medicine.

Eighty-three percent of physicians in the 25- to 34-year age bracket report that they were taught to practice defensive medicine in medical school or residency by an attending physician or mentor. Defensive medicine is a term used to describe the medically unnecessary tests and treatments physicians order in order avoid lawsuits.

"Older physicians are sharing lawsuit stories and advice with younger physicians,” reported Richard Jackson, chairman and chief executive officer of Jackson Healthcare. "These stories are convincing younger physicians to practice defensive medicine.”

According to Jackson, the root problem driving defensive medicine practices is that physicians’ livelihoods are at stake. "The U.S. is the only major country in the world where physicians are personally financially liable for mistakes.”

Jackson survey data suggests that, with each decade, defensive medicine is growing in prominence and practice. The following represents the percent of respondents, by age, that reported they were taught defensive medicine in medical school or residency:

  •     83 percent (ages 25-34)
  •     63 percent (ages of 35-44)
  •     47 percent (ages 45-54)
  •     32 percent (ages 55-64)
  •     19 percent (age 65 and older)

The Jackson survey also found that defensive medicine is negatively impacting physicians and patients beyond costs. It is limiting patient access and quality, slowing the adoption of medical innovations and discouraging future generations to pursue the practice of medicine.

"This is a systemic problem that needs to be addressed at state and national levels,” said Jackson.

For more information contact Bob Schlotman at 770-643-5697 at Jackson Healthcare. Jackson surveys are available at Market Research.

Survey Methodology

In March 2009, Jackson Healthcare conducted a web-based survey of 1,407 physicians. Jackson had a response rate of 1.13 percent from the 124,572 invitations distributed. The survey has an error range of +/- 1.7 percent, at the 95 percent confidence level.

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 Jackson Healthcare.

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Bob Schlotman
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