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Survey: Docs delay adoption of medical innovations due to lawsuit fears

The threat of a lawsuit causes many physicians to delay the adoption of medical innovations, according to a national survey on defensive medicine by Jackson Healthcare.

Fifty-three percent of survey respondents say they delayed adopting medical innovations such as new pharmaceuticals, procedures and medical devices due to fear of litigation.

“Delayed adoption of new medical advancements is another serious consequence of our culture of litigation, which is unique to the U.S.,” said Richard Jackson, chairman and chief executive officer of Atlanta-based Jackson Healthcare. “As long as our physicians remain personally financially liable for mistakes, we will continue to feel the impacts of defensive medicine.”

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According to the survey, surgery sub-specialists (66 percent) and OB/GYNs (63 percent) are most likely to delay the adoption of medical innovations, while pediatricians (27 percent) are least likely to do so.

“I practice defensive medicine by avoiding the practice of those procedures which might benefit my patients but are considered too risky by my malpractice insurer and would increase my premiums to a degree that is prohibitive,” said one physician, who cited joint injections as an example.

Jackson said the adverse impacts of defensive medicine include unnecessary costs, limited access for certain patients, over- and under-treatment of life threatening illnesses and delayed adoption of medical advancements.