Defensive Medicine? No Such Thing.
July 4, 2010
When doctors become invested in an outpatient surgery center, they perform on average twice as many surgeries as doctors with no such financial stake, according to a new study from the University of Michigan Health System.
They say healthcare is expensive because doctors practice what has come to be known as “defensive medicine.” Once of the reason why there is no such thing as “defensive medicine” is that the US healthcare structure invites doctors to perform tests because that is how they get paid. On top of that, when there is actual monetary interest in the form is a vested investment, then there is even more reason why tests are ordered.
“Our data suggest that physician behavior changes after investment in an outpatient facility. Through what some have labeled the ‘triple dip,’ physician owners of surgery centers not only collect a professional fee for the services provided, but also share in their facility’s profits and the increased value of their investment. This creates a potential conflict of interest,” says study author John Hollingsworth, M.D., M.S., a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar at the U-M Medical School.
“To the extent that owners are motivated by profit, one potential explanation for our findings is that these physicians may be lowering their thresholds for treating patients with these common outpatient procedures,” Hollingsworth adds.
The study looked at all patients in Florida who underwent one of five common outpatient procedures: carpal tunnel release, cataract excision, colonoscopy, knee arthroscopy and myringotomy with tympanostomy tube placement (a procedure to insert tubes in the ear).