The survey is certainly the latest, and—by sheer numbers—one of the more telling reports on physician attitudes about defensive medicine and malpractice concerns. It also reveals what doctors see as a major cost driver of healthcare.
When asked what two factors "do you find least satisfying about the medical practice," 40.3% said it was "liability/defensive medicine pressures." Other reasons lagged much further behind. Other "least satisfying" aspects included dealing with Medicare/Medicaid/government regulations (27.4%) and reimbursement issues (27.3%).
In the meantime, 69.1% of physicians said defensive medicine is the "number one ranked factor" driving up healthcare costs. The survey described the ordering of tests, prescribing of drugs, and conducting of procedures done "partly or solely to drive a wedge against potential malpractice lawsuits."
Defensive medicine costs approximately $45.6 billion a year in the U.S., according to The Physicians Foundation survey.
"Physicians understand to some degree that's the cost of doing business, but the defensive medicine goes deeper than that, in the ordering of extra tests, doing the extra procedures, and extra scans to protect [oneself] against a malpractice suit. It's that four-legged stool, the liability that [prompts] defensive medicine."