Forty-two percent of US doctors believe that their patients are getting too much medical care, according to a survey published Monday which suggests fears of malpractice suits may be to blame.
The United States has the world’s highest health spending per capita among developed nations, at $5,475 compared to the next-highest country, Switzerland at $3,581, according to a separate US study published in 2007 in the journal Health Affairs.
Seventy-six percent of survey respondents said that concerns about possible malpractice suits were the main reason why they gave patients more aggressive treatment.
“Physicians believe they are paid to do more and exposed to legal punishment if they do less,” said the article. “The extent to which fear of malpractice leads to more aggressive practice (so-called defensive medicine) has been hotly debated; based on our findings, we believe it is not a small effect.”
Areas to think about:
- Apart from cost, what are some other risks associated with excessive medical intervention?
- The USA spends the most on healthcare on a per capita basis and yet this article raises concerns about too much healthcare being delivered as a result. However, the terms of the political argument over health care in the UK is very much centered on a headline figure of how much money is spent on the NHS. What might be a better way of trying to understand whether quality healthcare is being delivered?