Defensive Medicine And Its Impact On Health Care

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In modern practices, doctors are turning more and more towards defensive medicine. Defensive medicine is defined as the act of referring patients to other doctors or running more tests than medically necessary in order to avoid malpractice lawsuits. Defensive medicine leads to increases in patient health care costs, a decrease in patient wellbeing, an inefficient use of doctors and patients time, and may impact physicians’ well-being. This practice may also not be the best solution to protect both the physicians’ reputation and the patients’ health.
Defensive Medicine is believed to attribute to the overall increase in America’s health care costs. For instance, in May 2011 two surveys conducted by Jackson Healthcare and Gallup polling indicated that defensive medicine costs the U.S. $650 billion to $850 billion annually. Another poll taken in December 2010 cited the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons estimating that by reducing defensive medicine, the yearly savings could jump from $54 billion to $650 billion. Medicare and Medicaid are cited at paying up to $221 billion annually for unnecessary tests and procedures such as CT scans after uncomplicated fainting episodes, antibiotics for routine sinusitis, and osteoporosis screenings for women younger than 65 years. One enormous example of how defensive medicine impacts many lives is the rate at which Cesarean section births are performed, especially in order to prevent shoulder dystocia, (the malpractice settlements
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