Physicians: 20.6% of medical treatment is unnecessary + 4 more survey findings

According to physicians, overtreatment is common and fear of malpractice lawsuits is overwhelmingly cited as the reason why, a study published in Plos One shows.

Researchers surveyed 2,106 physicians from the American Medical Association masterfile. They questioned the physicians about the extent of overutilization, as well as causes, solutions and implications. The response rate was 70.1 percent.

Here are five findings:

1. Physicians reported an "interpolated median" of 20.6 percent of overall medical care was unnecessary.

2. Unnecessary medical care included 22 percent of prescription medications, 24.9 percent of tests and 11.1 percent of procedures.

3. The most commonly cited reasons for overtreatment were:
 
●    Fear of malpractice suits: 84.7 percent
●    Patient pressure/requests: 59 percent
●    Difficulty accessing medical records: 38.2 percent

4. Physicians identified the following potential solutions:

●    Training residents on appropriateness criteria: 55.2 percent
●    Enabling easy access to outside health records: 52 percent
●    Developing more practice guidelines: 51.5 percent

5. Around 70.8 percent of respondents believed physicians are more likely to perform unnecessary procedures when they profit from them.

More articles on physician issues: 
Malpractice fears are the No. 1 cause of overtreatment, physicians say 
How clinicians can come out on top in a MIPS world 
70% of malpractice cases against surgical residents involve elective surgery, study shows

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