Physician survey: Unneeded medical care is common, driven by fear of malpractice

Filed Under: Costs, Patients, Providers

“A new national survey of more than 2,000 physicians across multiple specialties finds that physicians believe overtreatment is common and mostly perpetuated by fear of malpractice, as well as patient demand and some profit motives,” a release on Insurance NewsNet tells us. “A report on the findings, published in PLOS ONE, highlights physicians’ perspectives on unnecessary healthcare practices and the potential causes and solutions.’Unnecessary medical care is a leading driver of the higher health insurance premiums affecting every American,’ says Martin Makary, M.D., M.P.H., professor of surgery and health policy at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the paper’s senior author. Unnecessary medical services represent the majority of wasted healthcare resources and costs in the United States, accounting for an estimated $210 billion in excess spending each year, according to the National Academy of Medicine. Studies consistently show that overtreatment is also directly associated with preventable patient harm and, on a national scale, the issue represents a significant opportunity to improve patient safety and lower health care costs, Makary notes.  … Direct estimates by physicians themselves of unnecessary care, however, have been limited. … The Johns Hopkins research team … invited 3,318 physicians from a continuing education subgroup of the American Medical Association’s Physician Masterfile, a database of more than 1.4 million physicians in the United States, to complete a survey about healthcare practices.The majority … who responded said they believed that at least 15 to 30 percent of medical care is not needed. …Survey respondents reported that 22 percent of prescription medications, 24.9 percent of medical tests, 11.1 percent of procedures and 20.6 percent of overall medical care delivered is unnecessary. … Physicians with at least 10 years of experience after residency and specialists were more likely to believe that physicians perform unnecessary procedures when they profit from them. ‘Interestingly, but not surprisingly, physicians implicated their colleagues (more so than themselves) in providing wasteful care,’ says Daniel Brotman, M.D., professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and an author on the paper. “Physician survey: Unneeded medical care is common, driven by fear of malpractice,” InsuranceNewsNet.