Prevalence of defense medicine in Lithuania

Liutauras Labanauskas, Viktoras Justickis, Aistė Sivakovaitė


The survey of 2440 physicians manifested broad spread of the defensive medicine in Lithuania. 86,3 proc. of doctors admitted referring their patients to other specialists without any real need and only to protect themselves from any probable legal prosecution. 60,7 proc. appoint unnecessary additional analysis for the same reason. 66,6 proc. avoid „risky“ patients (ones presenting with a complicated or dangerous desease, or aware and ready to defend their patient rights. 59,9 proc. avoid using necessary, but risky procedures. 40,3 proc. appoint unnecessary drugs. There are many unwelcome consequences of this wide spread defensive medicine for Lithuanian health care. The first. Overflow of the national health care system with great number of additional patients. This brings enormous prolongation of waiting time for all patients. This causes great harm to patients who should receive the medical care in a proper time. Those patients lose their chances for successful recovery. The second. Defensive medicine causes especially great harm to the patients who have the most serious diseases. They do not receive the proper care because in their cases some daring decisions are needed, but these decisions are not taken because of their doctors’ fear of legal prosecution. The third. Defensive medicine causes multisided economical losses. The great number of patients spends great deal of money purchasing unnecessary drugs, doing laboratory tests, getting unnecessary consultations, etc. Drug misuse (especially, defensive appointments of antibiotics) brings large-scale of reduction in their efficiency.


defensive medicine; doctors’ legal liability; health care standards

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"Health Policy and Management" ISSN online 2029-9001 / ISSN print 2029-3569