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Doctors under pressure, 8 out of 10 fear a complaint

 Mario Falconi, president of the Rome medical association

Italian doctors feel under pressure and fear having judicial problems: 68,2% of them feel, in fact, more at risk of being reported today than in the past, while only 6,7% considers the probability of being reported null. Situation that determines a widespread use of defensive medicine, practiced by the 50%-75% of doctors. This is what emerges from the study carried out at a national level by the Rome Medical Association, presented yesterday to the Senate. «Defensive medicine is a widespread phenomenon among Italian doctors» comments Aldo Piperno, professor of sociology of economic phenomena at the Federico II University of Naples, coordinator of the study «which cannot be eliminated but can be contained, partly with controls and the application of standards, partly by easing the pressure on doctors. In fact, 65.4% of them are considered under pressure in everyday clinical practice». According to Mario Falconi, president of the Rome Medical Association, this study "confirms that the phenomenon is only minimally attributable to doctors because it originates from several environmental factors that put the category under pressure". The phenomenon is more pronounced among hospital doctors, surgeons, internists, orthopedists, gynecologists, nephrologists and in emergency medicine, especially in the southern regions and on the islands.

Healthcare costs are very high

Defensive medicine has an impact on health expenditure on the National Health Service equal to 10.5%. This was estimated by the national survey carried out by the Provincial Order of Physicians-Surgeons and Dentists of Rome. In this 10.5% the main part is represented by hospitalizations (4.6%), followed by drugs (1.9%), visits (1.7%), laboratory tests (0.7%), and instrumental tests (0.8%). The figure rises to 14% on private expenditure, if only private doctors are considered (drugs 4%, visits 2.1%, laboratory tests 0.6%, instrumental tests 0.4%, hospitalizations 0.1%), while on total expenditure it is expected to be 11.8% if one considers that generated by all public and private doctors (drugs 3.7% visits 2.4%, laboratory tests 0.8%, instrumental tests 0.8%, hospitalizations 3.2%). «The costs of defensive medicine are very high» comments Salvo Calì, national secretary of Smi «we can estimate them to be equal to 5-19 billion euros. Unfortunately, we have to acknowledge the delay of politics, which continues to be unable to provide the correct tools to adequately respond to the new needs of society".

DoctorNews – November 24, 2010

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