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One in three dollars spent on health care in Florida currently pays for unnecessary tests and treatments that physicians order to keep from being sued, according to a new Florida physician poll released by Patients for Fair Compensation. This spending equates to more than $40 billion dollars each year.
The poll, conducted by Oppenheim Research on behalf of Patients for Fair Compensation, showed that of physicians surveyed statewide, 88 percent said they practiced some form of “defensive medicine” in the past 12 months to protect themselves from frivolous lawsuits.
That means patients are paying more so doctors don’t get sued. “Doctors order unnecessary medical care because they are in fear that one mistake could wipe out everything they’ve ever worked for,” said Richard L. Jackson, chairman of Patients for Fair Compensation, a new not-for-profit advocacy group.
Oppenheim Research, under the direction of Jay Rayburn, Ph.D., Florida State University School of Communications, conducted the statewide survey across a variety of physicians. Those doctors reported that 33 percent of overall healthcare costs can be attributed to the practice of defensive medicine.
According to 2009 data released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, healthcare in Floridanow costs $132 billion annually. Based on its poll, Patients for Fair Compensation officials, estimate that more than $40 billion of Florida’s annual health care dollars are spent on unnecessary tests and treatments.
“That kind of money could certainly help pay for the healthcare of many uninsured Americans,” Jackson added. “If we eliminate defensive medicine, we can make healthcare more affordable for everyone.” In Florida’s current medical liability system, physicians risk personal financial exposure with every decision they make. They also abhor the litigation process. These factors force physicians to eliminate every potential threat of litigation, resulting in defensive medicine.
Patients for Fair Compensation was founded to educate and propose policy solutions that eliminate the incentives to practice defensive medicine by replacing the current medical liability system. For more information about Patients for Fair Compensation and the Patients’ Compensation System, visit www.patientsforfaircompensation.org.