You Can’t Pretend Defensive Medicine Doesn’t Exist

A survey of 202 fourth-year medical students and third-year residents at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago found that 94% of students and 96% of residents have seen examples of defensive medicine in their clinical training.  Somehow this comes as a surprise to American Medical News reporter but the bottom line is that we can’t pretend it doesn’t exist.   The medical “lottery system” is a reality and without tort reform (not tort removal) then nothing will change and our students will perpetuate this costly ritual.  Truly sad.

Douglas Farrago MD

Douglas Farrago MD is a full-time practicing family doc in Forest, Va. He started Forest Direct Primary Care where he takes no insurance and bills patients a monthly fee. He is board certified in the specialty of Family Practice. He is the inventor of a product called the Knee Saver which is currently in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The Knee Saver and its knock-offs are worn by many major league baseball catchers. He is also the inventor of the CryoHelmet used by athletes for head injuries as well as migraine sufferers. Dr. Farrago is the author of four books, two of which are the top two most popular DPC books. From 2001 – 2011, Dr. Farrago was the editor and creator of the Placebo Journal which ran for 10 full years. Described as the Mad Magazine for doctors, he and the Placebo Journal were featured in the Washington Post, US News and World Report, the AP, and the NY Times. Dr. Farrago is also the editor of the blog Authentic Medicine which was born out of concern about where the direction of healthcare is heading and the belief that the wrong people are in charge. This blog has been going daily for more than 15 years Article about Dr. Farrago in Doximity Email Dr. Farrago – [email protected] 

  5 comments for “You Can’t Pretend Defensive Medicine Doesn’t Exist

  1. Bridget Reidy
    February 24, 2012 at 5:56 am

    When I was in training every time someone could not explain why a test was being done the reason given was defensive medicine. I’ve subsequently learned that the reasons, at least outside of academia and in primary care, are far more complex, and if not for profit then usually related to not thinking things through or not wanting to take the time to explain what should be done. If we cared that much about avoiding lawsuits we would pay attention to the experts when they tell us what suits are likely and what leads to them, like giving patients the impression you don’t care.

  2. Charles Davant
    February 22, 2012 at 12:46 pm

    I teach students “If it’s bony and it hurts, x-ray it. It’s the patient’s ankle, but it’s your ass…”

  3. Pat
    February 22, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    I’ll stop practicing defensive medicine when I stop fearing patients and their families…which will never happen.

  4. Larry Kutner
    February 22, 2012 at 10:03 am

    Only 94 and 96 percent? Weren’t the others paying attention?

  5. Griff
    February 20, 2012 at 7:41 am

    I would argue that it will take a generation to change defensive medicine as MRI’s for sprains and 42 item lab panels on healthy 30 year-olds have become a habit that non one questions or considers. If M4’s think this is “normal” they will teach it as normal for the next several decades.

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