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Doctors' Lies Not Uncommon

A new survey by the American Medical Association's Institute of Ethics recently found many doctors are willing to lie to health care providers in order to get extra care for their patients.

More than one third of doctors lied to an insurance company last year so patients could be reimbursed for needed services, according to the survey.

Thirty-seven percent said patients have asked them to lie on their behalf, reports CBS This Morning Health Contributer Dr. Bernadine Healy.

"What this suggests is that doctors and their patients feel that they're in a repressive, maybe an abusive system with rules and controls about reimbursement and other things imposed on the doctor, patient relationship," she says.

"It's heroic for doctors to step up and say they have done something terrible, which is lying," she said.

Almost sixty-percent would lie for patients to receive surgery. Fifty-percent would lie to provide pain medicine. Less than three percent said they would lie for cosmetic nose jobs.

Still, whether this pattern of abuse is due to the economics of the current health care system or out of an intention to render good care, it's no excuse, she continued.

A second survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation found almost fifty-percent of doctors have exaggerated their patients conditions to insurance companies.

More than half of doctors would support the decision of a colleague to lie to an insurer, according to a survey by the Archives of Internal Medicine.

The dilemma many doctors face is the need to give patients care under a health system that refuses it in many cases, Dr. Healy said.

While doctors claim they are trying to help patients, it is possible they are simply 'gaming the system' so they receive a bigger payment, Healy added.

"There are ways to control cost without intruding on that sacred relationship between a patient and doctor," she said.