Lawsuit fears hinder physician adoption of medical innovations

According to a new national survey on defensive medicine by Jackson Healthcare, the threat of a lawsuit causes many physicians to delay the adoption of medical innovations.  More than half (53%) of survey respondents reported they had delayed adopting medical innovations such as new pharmaceuticals, procedures and medical devices due to fear of litigation.

According to the survey, surgery subspecialists (66%) and OB/GYNs (63%) are most likely to delay the adoption of medical innovations, while pediatricians (27%) are least likely.

“I practice defensive medicine by avoiding the practice of those procedures which might benefit my patients, but are considered too risky by my malpractice insurer and would increase my premiums to a degree that is prohibitive,” wrote one physician, who cited joint injections as an example.

Another physician wrote, “...anything ‘new’ exposes you to the accusation that you are ‘learning’ on this patient…”

“Delayed adoption of new medical advancements is another serious consequence of our culture of litigation, which is unique to the U.S.,” said Richard Jackson, chairman and chief executive officer of Jackson Healthcare. “As long as our physicians remain personally financially liable for mistakes, we will continue to feel the impacts of defensive medicine.”

Jackson said the adverse impacts of defensive medicine include unnecessary costs, limited access for certain patients, over- and under-treatment of life threatening illnesses and delayed adoption of medical advancements.

A summary of the new survey findings along with proposed methods for addressing malpractice reform and the defensive medicine problem can be found in Jackson Healthcare’s online media room.

For more information contact Bob Schlotman at 770-643-5697 at Jackson Healthcare.

Survey Methodology

In March 2010, Jackson Healthcare conducted a web-based survey of 1,407 physicians. Jackson had a response rate of 1.13 percent from the 124,572 invitations distributed.  The survey has an error range of +/- 1.7 percent, at the 95 percent confidence level.

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