In an era where medical malpractice is big news, doctors and other medical professionals are practicing something that has been coined “defensive medicine.” In other words, doctors are taking steps in their practices to reduce their chances of being sued. They may order extra lab tests, ask for additional imaging, or even schedule you for procedures that aren’t altogether necessary. All this in an attempt to avoid malpractice lawsuits.
In a study as recent as two years ago, more than 400 emergency room physicians were surveyed. 97 percent of respondents said that they practice defensive medicine. They admitted to ordering MRI or CT tests that they did not deem to be medically necessary. But why? They listed two reasons: A fear of being sued and a fear of missing a diagnosis that was not at the top of the list of possibilities.
While this type of medicine is indeed resulting in lower rates of malpractice suits, it comes at a higher cost to the patient and insurance companies. Why should a patient have to pay for imaging or testing to protect a physician? Some experts suggest that better communication may be the better, and cheaper, alternative.
Many malpractice complaints come out of a misunderstanding. When the medical team, patient and patient’s family act as cooperating partners in the patient’s care and the lines of communication are kept open, fewer misunderstanding occur. It is also recommended that doctors seek out the opinion of other medical professionals when they are unsure of a diagnosis.
Involving patients with the decisions regarding their medical care may be the best answer of all. When given information and options, a patient feels as if they are part of the decision making process. In the event that a mistake is made or an expected procedure has to be replaced with a second choice, the patient is less likely to put the blame solely on the doctor.
If your doctor is advising you that you need testing, ask why. If your doctor recommends a procedure, find out if there are options. Show your doctor that you expect to be kept informed with regards to your health and your overall care.
A doctor’s error can have serious consequences. If you believe that you were harmed at the hands of a medical professional, call our offices today. Our experienced team of medical malpractice attorneys will review the details of your case at no cost to you. Call now.