Unwarranted Fear Of Malpractice Suits May Be Affecting Patients
Despite the number of medical malpractice cases dropping in recent decades, doctors still remain unsettled. This looming fear of being hit with a lawsuit accounts for a number of patients receiving overtreatment.
A recent PLOS One report delves into a survey of 2,106 physicians - who believed that roughly 20 percent of medical care was unneeded. This includes 22 percent of prescriptions, 11 percent of procedures, and nearly 25 percent of tests. Moreover, many physicians also believed that excessive treatment of patients was commonplace.
Doctors Putting Own Interests Before Patient's Needs
When asked why they believed overtreatment was so prevalent, 85 percent of doctors cited fear of medical malpractice. Others claimed that overtreatment was received at the request of patients. More shockingly, some doctors referred to monetary gain as a catalyst for patient overtreatment.
Ironically, the actions that doctors take to avoid being hit with a malpractice lawsuit can themselves amount to malpractice. Medical professionals who take an "everything but the kitchen sink" approach to care are unlikely to get the same quality of results as those who seek to provide their patients with only necessary treatments. Furthermore, overtreatment can leave patients dealing with significant side effects or even recovering from unnecessary surgery, to say nothing of the missed time from work, mental and emotional effects and other losses that can come with extensive medical treatment.
Safe, effective medicine is the best treatment for fear of malpractice
While the PLOS One report implies that only two to three percent of patients will sue, a medical malpractice case can consume years of a doctor's career. In some cases, they can even bring a doctor's career to a complete halt. Additionally, inattentive care can result in serious suffering and further medical complications for patients. It's understandable that doctors fear lawsuits to a certain extent, but that fear is overblown - and the best way to avoid a lawsuit is to practice safe, effective medicine, rather than overtreating.
That's why it is important for doctors to put the patient's needs before their own and provide the best care possible. Victims of medical negligence should contact an experienced lawyer and receive the representation they deserve. If you or a loved one are a victim of medical malpractice, know your rights and don't hesitate to take action and receive compensation for your losses.