“Assurance behaviors,” a type of defensive medicine, involve physicians’ utilization of additional patient services to avoid adverse legal outcomes. We aim to compare the use of clinical behaviors (such as ordering additional tests, services, and consultations) due to malpractice concerns with the same behaviors due to patient safety concerns.
A national sample of dermatopathologists (n = 160) completed an online survey.
Participants reported using one or more of five clinical behaviors due to concerns about medical malpractice (95%) and patient safety (99%). Self-reported use of clinical behaviors due to malpractice concerns and patient safety concerns was compared, including ordering additional immunohistochemistry/molecular tests (71% vs 90%, respectively, P < .0001), recommending additional surgical sampling (78% vs 91%, P < .0001), requesting additional slides (81% vs 95%, P < .0001), obtaining second reviews (78% vs 91%, P .05).
Dermatopathologists use many clinical behaviors both as assurance behaviors and due to patient safety concerns, with a higher proportion reporting patient safety concerns as a motivation for specific behaviors.

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