The State of Defensive Medicine, Part I: Defining “Defensive Medicine” and why it’s a violation of the doctor/patient relationship.
Richard E. Anderson, MD, FACP, the Chairman and CEO of The Doctors Company, recently appeared on Healthcare Matters to discuss his views on the problem of defensive medicine. In the first of a series of videos, Dr. Anderson defines defensive medicine as “A test, procedure, or therapy that is ordered by a physician primarily to protect himself or herself from liability rather than because of its diagnostic or therapeutic utility.” Using this definition, Dr. Anderson goes on to explain why he believes practicing defensive medicine negatively impacts the doctor/patient relationship by undermining the physician’s position as an advocate for the patient.
Dr. Anderson also addresses the expense associated with defensive medicine, which is notoriously difficult to determine. Estimates of defensive medicine costs range anywhere from a low of $46 billion a year, according to 2014 study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, up to a high of $850 billion a year, based on a 2010 physician-survey from Jackson Healthcare. Whatever the actual figure, Dr. Anderson’s contention that defensive medicine permeates medical decision-making in the United States has important implications for physicians, patients and the medical-legal community. Watch Part I of the interview below. For the full interview, click here.