Have you heard of the term “defensive medicine”? It is used to describe when doctors make treatment decisions not based on what is necessarily in the patient’s best interests, but instead in effort to protect the doctor from potential medical malpractice claims.
The authors of a recently-released analysis of medical malpractice claims within cardiology concluded that defensive medicine is contributing to the decline of healthcare quality in the United States, while at the same time malpractice claims are on the rise.
The researchers decided to focus their study on cardiology because it is a specialty area of medicine with especially high rates of malpractice claims. They analyzed more than 1,500 cardiology malpractice claims filed between 2006 and 2015.
First, they found that cardiology malpractice claims increased by an astonishing 91 percent from 2006 to 2015, and the damages paid in the claims grew by 142 percent. They also discovered that the most common malpractice allegations were of improper medical treatment and diagnostic errors.
Other common allegations of negligence included miscommunication, safety issues, monitoring problems and equipment malfunction.
The full results of the study were published in the American Journal of Cardiology last month.
What do the results of the study tell us?
One thing we can glean from the study is that instances of malpractice continue to increase, particularly in specialty areas of medicine such as cardiology. We know that defensive medicine continues to contribute to malpractice claims as the attitude of many physicians has shifted from “doing what’s best for the patient” to “doing what is best for the physician.”
Hopefully, as the medical industry realizes that defensive medicine is not very effective at reducing malpractice claims and, instead, contributes to instances of malpractice, we can get back to a system in which doctors put the needs of patients first.
If you have a feeling that a loved one was subjected to unnecessary treatment or testing because a physician was practicing defensive medicine instead of looking out for you or your loved one, your inclination could be correct. Talk to a legal professional for more information.