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Playing Defense isn’t in the Best Interest of Americans’ Health

Posted by Marty Hudson on Feb 23, 2010 4:24:15 PM

We have all heard the best offense is a good defense.  Well in the case of the health of American citizens this just isn’t the case.  To be honest this was a little bit of a new one to me, although common sense would tell you it is all too common.  On Jackson Healthcare website this past week the following article was posted.

Physicians attribute 26 percent of overall healthcare costs to the practice of defensive medicine according to a study released today by Gallup and Jackson Healthcare.

Physicians generally estimate that defensive medicine costs are higher overall when compared to their own personal practice. While physicians attribute an average of 26 percent of overall costs to defensive medicine, 13 percent believe the practice constitutes 50 percent or more of the cost.

Of the physicians surveyed, 73 percent agreed that they had practiced some form of defensive medicine in the past 12 months. Twenty-three percent of practicing physicians estimate that defensive medicine constitutes less than 10 percent of their practice while 29 percent estimate the percentage to be between 10 percent and less than 25 percent.

Physicians indicating they had practiced a form of defensive medicine in the last twelve months attribute 21 percent of their practice to be defensive in nature.

In the study, defensive medicine was defined in this manner:  "Defensive medicine is the practice of diagnostic or therapeutic measures conducted primarily not to ensure the health of the patient, but as a safeguard against possible malpractice liability. This may include tests, prescriptions, hospitalizations and referrals that may not be medically necessary, but are viewed as providing protection from a potential lawsuit."

Jackson Healthcare retained Gallup for the study in an effort to quantify the scope and impact of defensive medicine practices in the U.S.

Results are based on telephone interviews with 462 randomly selected US physicians. Interviews were conducted in December and January.

---Credit Jackson Healthcare & Gallup

So all that said; as stated in the past on this blog, there are some real healthcare reform needed in this county and I am not sure we are focusing reform on where it needs to be.   Best offense is a good defense?  In this case, playing defense isn’t even in the best interest of Americans’ health.

---Marty Hudson

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