- A new survey released by Atlanta-based Jackson Healthcare found that hospital administrators believe that one third of health care costs are the result of defensive medicine.
- The survey, which 106 hospital execs completed earlier this year, found hospital execs believe that 57% of physicians practice defensive medicine.
- 65% of hospital execs said defensive medicine hurts hospitals' financial performance, while 27% reported a positive impact. 62% believe it protects their hospitals from lawsuits.
Certainly, physicians do practice defensive medicine, a quite understandable response to the litigious environment we live in. That being said, cries of "defensive medicine" do little to get at the problem of what they should be doing, in an ideal world where there were no litigation concerns. It was no surprise that respondents to this study were divided most evenly on whether defensive medicine affects patient care quality, with 31% citing a positive impact and 32% reporting a negative impact. If almost a third of hospital executives believe that defensive medicine may improve quality, perhaps we shouldn't be so quick to dismiss it, but instead, turn it into a useful tool somehow.