One in four dollars spent on healthcare in America pays for unnecessary tests and treatments that physicians order to keep from being sued, according to a survey released by Jackson Healthcare and the for-profit consultancy Center for Health Transformation.
Unnecessary tests done to prevent lawsuits: study
The poll was conducted by Gallup, representing interviews with 462 randomly selected practicing physicians from across the U.S. on the topic of defensive medicine. Based on Gallup's survey, Jackson Healthcare officials estimate that $650 billion of the $2.5 trillion spent on healthcare annually is spent on unnecessary services.
Physicians surveyed attributed 26% of overall healthcare costs to the practice of defensive medicine. In addition, 73% said they practiced some form of defensive medicine in the past year to protect themselves from lawsuits.
“Healthcare would be cheaper for every American if we could slash the cost of defensive medicine,” said Newt Gingrich, founder of the Center for Health Transformation, in a written statement. “Think of how often each of us gets sent for extra lab work or tests that seem so unnecessary."
Meaningful health reform needs to address the issue of defensive medicine, Gingrich said.
Frivolous lawsuits in the meantime could be discouraged through health courts that only consider medical malpractice cases, Gingrich's group has suggested.
Jackson Healthcare is based in Alpharetta, Ga., and provides healthcare staffing, technology and hospital management services.
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