15% to 30% of Medical Care Unneeded, Say Doctors

About 15% to 30% of the medical care delivered in the United States is unnecessary, according to a survey of over 2,000 doctors in PLOS ONE. The physicians represent a range of specialties and say that fear of malpractice lawsuits contributes to the tendency to overtreat. They also cite patient demands and problems accessing medical records.

“At 85% of respondents, ‘fear of malpractice’ was the top cited reason for overtreatment,” the study states. “Perceptions on the prevalence of malpractice suits, however, may be greater than the reality of the problem. Only 2–3% of patients harmed by negligence pursue litigation, of whom about half receive compensation.”

The authors cite the Institute of Medicine’s estimate that a 50% reduction in unnecessary services would save the health care system $105 billion each year, which equals about 4% of total health care spending.

Source: PLOS ONE