Defensive medicine practices performed by Massachusetts physicians add at least $1.4 billion to the states annual healthcare bill, according to a Massachusetts Medical Society survey of 883 physicians across eight specialties.
According to the mail survey, which was presented at the Massachusetts Medical Societys interim meeting held Nov. 14-15 in Waltham, Mass., the cost of unnecessary hospitalizations equals about $1.1 billion annually based on Medicare reimbursement rates in the state for 2005 and 2006. The cost of tests ordered for defensive purposes was calculated at $281 million annually.
Physicians were asked about their use of CT scans, MRIs, ultrasounds, X-rays, laboratory testing, specialty referrals and consultations, and hospital admissions.
In the survey, 83% of the physicians reported practicing defensive medicine, and that between 18% and 28% of tests, procedures, referrals and consultations and 13% of hospitalizations were ordered for defensive reasons, according to a news release.
The study was led by Manish Sethi, M.D., of the Orthopedic Surgery Department of 907-bed Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, and Robert Aseltine Jr. of the Institute for Public Health Research at the University of Connecticut Health Center in Farmington. The survey was conducted between November 2007 and April 2008: and specialties included were anesthesiology, emergency medicine, family medicine, internal medicine, general surgery, neurosurgery, orthopedics, and obstetrics/gynecology. -- by Andis Robeznieks