What is defensive medicine?

By Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo & Plotkin LLP

Defensive medicine is an alleged practice undertaken by many doctors as a way to prevent possible litigation by an injured patient. It is a common rallying cry among politicians seeking “tort reform.” Proponents of reform argue that defensive medicine is responsible for part of the significant rise in healthcare costs. But a study out of Cardozo University reviewed several government studies and found that defensive medicine is responsible for little of the rise in healthcare costs.

The study compiled reports from the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and the Congressional Budget Office.

The OTA found that less than eight percent of medical and diagnostic procedures ordered by doctors were likely done in anticipation of preventing possible malpractice. In fact, physicians typically order aggressive testing because he or she determines that they are medically necessary to treat the patient.

Moreover, a report from the CBO noted that sometimes defensive medicine is practiced when doctors order extraneous tests so as to drive up their income. Doctors are paid on a per-procedure basis, therefore, the more procedures done, the higher their income.

You may think that a lawsuit is unnecessary or frivolous, but you should speak with a lawyer before you accept any settlement offers. A lawyer will walk you through all of the potential damages to which you are entitled. For example, money to pay for future medical treatments to repair the injury you suffered due to the doctor error. Any initial settlement you accept may not consider these future costs, which could saddle you with the bill. A lawyer can help aid in your pursuit of the compensation to which you are entitled.

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