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U.S. Docs Feel They Give More Patient Care Than Required

Malpractice, clinical performance, time constraint, financial incentives tied to aggressive practice

TUESDAY, Sept. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Many primary care physicians in the United States believe that their patients are receiving too much medical care, and that the pressure to do more than is necessary could be reduced by malpractice reform, adjusting financial incentives, and spending more time with patients, according to a study published in the Sept. 26 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Brenda E. Sirovich, M.D., from the Veterans Affairs Outcomes Group in White River Junction, Vt., and colleagues assessed the viewpoint of U.S. primary care physicians on whether a substantial amount of the health care they provide to their patients is unnecessary. A total of 627 U.S. primary care physicians were surveyed from June to December 2009.

The investigators found that 42 and 6 percent of the physicians believed that patients in their practice receive too much or too little care, respectively. Malpractice concerns, clinical performance measures, and inadequate time spent with patients were the factors identified as leading to more aggressive practices, at 76, 52, and 40 percent, respectively. A total of 62 percent of physicians believed that the amount of diagnostic testing would decrease if it did not generate revenue for medical subspecialists. A total of 95 percent of physicians believed that there is variation in practice for identical patients and 76 percent were interested in knowing how their own practice style is considered versus other physicians.

"Many U.S. primary care physicians believe that their own patients are receiving too much medical care," the authors write.

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