CJAC: Civil Justice Association of California

Feb 14, 2012

Defensive Orthopedic Medicine Costs U.S. $2 billion Annually

A study conducted by Vanderbilt University Medical Center researchers estimates that approximately $2 billion per year in unnecessary health care costs result from the practice of defensive medicine by U.S. orthopedic surgeons.

The findings are from a national survey of 2,000 orthopedic surgeons. The study, which was published in the February 2012 issue of the American Journal of Orthopedics, found 96% of respondents reported having practiced defensive medicine by ordering imaging, laboratory tests, specialist referrals, or hospital admissions mainly to avoid possible malpracĀ­tice liability. On average, 24% of all ordered tests were for defensive reasons. The average national Medicare payment information was used to calculate the cost of defensive medicine per respondent: approximately $100,000 per year. With there being 20,400 practicing orthopedic surgeons in the US, the researchers conclude that the national cost of defensive medicine for the specialty of orthopedic surgery is $2 billion annually.

You can find a summary of the study here and the full study here.

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