According to recent studies, at least 91 percent of all physicians practice defensive medicine. Described as the process of ordering tests or procedures that exceed necessity to diagnose or treat to prevent a lawsuit, this new “face” of medicine can be found across all practices and specialties. But is this potentially driving factor in rising health costs really about preventing lawsuits? Or is it a method of fraud to drive up profits?
The Danger of Unnecessary Procedures
Whether it is a simple incision or a complete surgery, the performance of an unnecessary procedure puts patients at risk. Infection, complications, and the general presence of pain are all matters that may arise; in some cases, those problems can become deadly. For example, an unnecessary surgery can put the patient at risk for an anesthesia reaction, heart failure, hemorrhaging, and post-operative infection. So why do doctors do it?
Fear of Malpractice?
For years, tort reformers have made claims regarding a rising in the number of medical malpractice lawsuits, and their associated costs. Yet a deeper look into the trends fails to produce any evidence that malpractice lawsuits are increasing in frequency or amount. This information encourages an even further look into why, exactly, defensive medicine has become so prevalent in the healthcare industry.
Is Fee for Service a Component?
In healthcare, delivery of a service warrants a fee. Some believe that this creates a two-prong problem – it encourages doctors to work faster and harder (potentially increasing their risk of mistake) to better their profits, and it entices some into performing unnecessary tests, surgeries, or procedures for profit. Of course, it is highly unlikely that all doctors are essentially “scamming the system” to increase their profits, but there is also a high probability that at least some of them are.
Evidence Points to Possible Fraud
Again, it is highly likely that some physicians are practicing defensive medicine to avoid malpractice claims. However, there is evidence suggesting that others are using the term “defensive medicine” to justify the excessive cost. In fact, an Indiana cardiologist is already facing nearly 300 malpractice claims for allegedly placing pacemakers or defibrillators patients did not need. Another is facing 140 different patients in court, all of whom are alleging to have received botched, repeat plastic surgery procedures for the sake of profit.
In a more severe case, a physician was recently sentenced to 20 years in federal prison for fraud, falsification of documents, and money laundering after ordering and performing inappropriate treatment over the course of six years. Court documents indicate that this physician performed dozens of unnecessary stent insertions, catheterizations, tests, and had caused unnecessary coronary bypass surgeries to receive compensation from insurance companies for procedures the patients did not need.
Clearly, it is happening, but to what extent, no one really knows. But it could be far more prevalent than most people realize, which means far too many patients today are suffering a number of afflictions that have been caused by the very people who should be healing them. Needless to say, this sort of behavior is unacceptable.
Do You Have a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?
If you or someone you love has been injured, suffered from the loss of work or unnecessary pain and suffering, or was killed because of an unnecessary medical procedure, you may be entitled to compensation. Unfortunately, the road to receiving such compensation can be extremely difficult. For this reason, it is highly advised that all victims of medical malpractice consult a skilled and experienced medical malpractice attorney.
At [[title]], we believe victims deserve more than just advocacy; they deserve compassionate representation and a firm that is willing to take extraordinary lengths to achieve results. Let our Chicago medical malpractice attorneys examine your case and give you and your family the time and energy needed to focus on what is really important – healing and caring for those you love most. Call [[phone]] and schedule your free initial consultation today.