"Doctors order unnecessary medical care
because they are in fear that one mistake could wipe out everything
they've ever worked for."
Richard L. Jackson
(December 20, 2011) - One in three
dollars spent on health care in Florida currently pays for
unnecessary tests and treatments that physicians order to
keep from being sued, according to a new Florida physician poll
released today by Patients for Fair Compensation. This spending
equates to more than $40 billion dollars each year.
The poll, conducted by Oppenheim Research on behalf of Patients
for Fair Compensation, showed that of physicians surveyed
statewide, 87 percent said they practiced some form of "defensive
medicine" in the past 12 months to protect themselves from
That means patients are paying more so doctors don't get
"Doctors order unnecessary medical care because they are in fear
that one mistake could wipe out everything they've ever worked
for," said Richard L. Jackson, chairman of Patients for Fair
Compensation, a new not-for-profit advocacy group.
Oppenheim Research, under the direction of Jay Rayburn Ph.D.,
Florida State University School of Communications, conducted the
statewide survey across a variety of physicians. Those doctors
reported that 33 percent of overall healthcare costs can be
attributed to the practice of defensive medicine. According to 2009
data released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services,
healthcare in Florida now costs $132 billion annually. Based on its
poll, Patients for Fair Compensation officials, estimate that more
than $40 billion of Florida's annual health care dollars are spent
on unnecessary tests and treatments.
"That kind of money could certainly help pay for the healthcare
of many uninsured Americans," Jackson added. "If we eliminate
defensive medicine, we can make healthcare more affordable for
In Florida's current medical liability system, physicians risk
personal financial exposure with every decision they make. They
also abhor the litigation process. These two factors force
physicians to eliminate every potential threat of litigation,
resulting in the practice of defensive medicine.
"Patients not only undergo too many unnecessary tests and
procedures, but are often denied care as a result of physicians'
fear of being sued," said Dr. Jeffrey Segal, Patients for Fair
Compensation board member.
Patients for Fair Compensation was founded to educate and
propose policy solutions that eliminate the incentives to practice
defensive medicine. By replacing the current medical
liability system with one legally modeled after the workers'
compensation system, the interests of patients, doctors and
taxpayers can be aligned to stop the practice of defensive
medicine, optimize quality healthcare and ensure real access to
"It is important to explore the viability of an administrative
system similar to the Workers' Compensation system," said James
Madison Institute Policy Director Robert F. Sanchez. "At present,
the practice of defensive medicine inflates the cost of health
Click Here for Survey Data