Malpractice fears raise costs and breed inefficiency, doctors say

Eighty-five percent of doctors surveyed said that malpractice litigation was a constant worry that impinged on their effectiveness.

In a survey of American physicians released late last week, Jackson Healthcare reported that malpractice litigation keeps doctors from practicing medicine efficiently.

Because of litigation fears, doctors must practice "defensive medicine" by ordering frivolous tests. "Respondents attributed the practice of defensive medicine to excessive waste in the health care system," noted Jackson Healthcare CEO Rick Jackson. Much attention has been focused on the spiraling costs of care in the health care reform debate.

The doctors in Jackson's survey suggested that they are in favor of reform, particularly within the health insurance industry. Seventy-eight percent of respondents would like to see dropped coverage and pre-existing condition refusals eliminated. Health insurance portability was also popular, results show.

A majority of doctors - 61 percent - support the provision of credits to individuals who opt out of their employer's health insurance plan. Credits would help people buy insurance on the open market. And 54 percent of doctors like the idea of an insurance exchange to promote health insurance competition.

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Posted: November 12, 2009

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