Study Highlights Disconnect in Physician Attitudes about Defensive Medicine and Actual Costs

October 3, 2014 | Strategic Insights for Ambulatory Care


​Physicians may practice medicine defensively more often than they realize, yet costs associated with defensive medicine may not be as significant as physicians perceive, concludes a research letter published September 15, 2014, in JAMA Internal Medicine. The study, based on surveys completed by 36 physicians practicing at three hospitals, asked physicians to rate their orders for a day on a five-point scale from 0 (not at all defensive) to 4 (completely defensive). Participants rated a total of 4,215 orders for 769 patients, altogether reporting that 28% of orders and 13% of costs were at least partially defensive; meanwhile, only 2.9% of costs were completely defensive.

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