CHICAGO — Fear of malpractice suits costs doctors and their patients more than $12 billion a year in insurance premiums and defensive medical procedures, accounting for 15% of all doctors' charges, American Medical Assn. researchers reported Thursday.
Analysts from the AMA also concluded that much of the defensive medicine practiced in the United States is not only medically useless but does not protect physicians from being sued.
"Those who say that defensive medicine is not a big problem or that these extra tests do some good are now going to have to demonstrate the benefits, and frankly, I think they will be hard-pressed to do that," said John Rizzo, research economist with the AMA's Center for Health Policy Research.
"There are clearly things that are being done that don't deter claims, that don't do any good medically, and do cost money," Rizzo said. "They aren't making the patient any happier; they're just costing them more."