ATLANTA, GA (July 6, 2011)- Physicians working under contract
with the federal government practice less defensive medicine
than their private sector peers, according to a new survey by
Atlanta-based clinical staffing organization, Jackson
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately
21,000 physicians and surgeons are employed by the federal
government in a full-time or part-time capacity. Of those
under contract with the federal government, their scope includes
the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, U.S. Department of
Defense, U.S. Department of Justice (Federal Bureau of Prisons),
U.S. Department of State, U.S. Department of Health and Human
Services and U.S. Public Health Service Commission Corps.
Forty-eight percent of government-contracted physicians report
practicing defensive medicine. This is notably less than the
private sector. Similar studies of private sector physicians
by Gallup and Jackson Healthcare in 2010 found that 73 percent and
92 percent of private sector physicians, respectively, admitted to
practicing defensive medicine.
Of the physician respondents who have worked in both the
government and private sectors, 62 percent reported practicing more
defensive medicine in the private sector than in the government
sector. Thirty-four percent reported practicing the same
amount in both.
According to Jackson Healthcare Chairman and CEO, Richard L.
Jackson, "Physicians working for the federal government feel less
personally threatened by medical malpractice
lawsuits than their counterparts in the private sector."
Jackson said that the Federal Tort Claims Act offers
government-contracted physicians protection against personal
financial liability, whereas private sector physicians work under
the constant shadow of lawsuit lottery suits.
One government physician respondent wrote that there was "less
fear of malpractice in the federal system." He believed he
had protection since punitive damages can't be made against the
government and the patient population is less likely to sue.
The survey also found that physicians working for the Department
of Defense reported the least amount of defensive medicine,
compared with physicians working for the Veterans Administration
and in the private sector.
"The root driver of defensive medicine, and its inflation of our
overall healthcare costs, is the fact that physicians in the
private sector are the only physicians in the world who are
personally financially liable for mistakes," says Jackson.
Jackson is currently working on federal and state-specific
solutions that protect patients, while reducing defensive
Further details of this survey can be found at www.jacksonhealthcare.com/research.
Jackson Healthcare conducted a web-based survey of 347
physicians. The survey has an error range of +/- 3.42
percent, at the 95 percent confidence level.