Physicians Who Fear Lawsuits Drive Up Costs With Defensive Medicine, Study Says

Physicians who perceive greater legal risks associated with practicing medicine are more likely to practice defensive medicine, according to a study published in Health Affairs.

Researchers cross-referenced physicians' diagnostic history and perceptions of malpractice risk and found that those that those who were more concerned about malpractice engaged in defensive diagnostic tactics.

Physicians who practice defensive medicine prescribe treatments that may not be strictly necessary but that will reduce the risk of poor outcomes or deter a patient from taking legal action. Such prescription habits drive up medical costs, according to the study. 

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