No Doctor Wants To Be Sued No Matter What

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A new study shows that even in states with medical liability caps, doctors still fear getting sued and because of this order more diagnostic tests.   The researches “linked survey data on physician perceptions of malpractice risk to their ordering data and found that physicians had higher rates of diagnostic imaging ordering for patients with lower back pain and headache if they were more concerned about their malpractice risk. But the researchers did not find that defensive ordering declined when states enacted tort reforms such as damage caps.”

The article in Family Practice News tries to make this out at groundbreaking but why?  No one wants to be sued.  It is devastating to your career, to your family life, to your emotional life and everything in-between.  Doctors are human.   Here is one of my favorite quotes from the piece:

“It’s possible that at this point in specialties like emergency medicine, defensive care has been so baked into training and routine that even people who think they are not very defensive are still being defensive,” Dr. Carrier said.

Oh, we’re baked all right.  Doctors have been burned in this issue so many times that they reflexly order tests knowing that they are a target for a lawsuit at any moment (cap or not).   One doctor in the article makes a great point in that she “hopes that there will be more study of alternative tort reform strategies such as ‘safe harbors’ for physicians who follow evidence-based practice guidelines.”

Here’s to SAFE HARBORS!  Until then, CT scans for everyone!  And it’s on the house.

Cheers.

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 “No Doctor Wants To Be Sued No Matter What

  1. Sean
    September 28, 2013 at 8:24 am

    I blame the malpractice attorneys. They are just sitting like wolves waiting to attack and capitalize on something unfortunate. Those attorneys want people to have bad things happen to them. It is a classic dichotomy…we want our patients to get better, they want them to get worse. They would be broke and unemployed if everybody was healthy and nothing bad happened.
    No matter what state you are in, people are bombarded with commercials with those type of attorneys pretending to care about them; the reality is they just care about money. Have to give them credit for advertising in a society where this sense of entitlement has sky-rocketed.
    With the affordable health care act and cuts by medicare/insurance reimbursement us docs are going to have to herd folks through like cattle. Those type of attorneys are on the sidelines, licking their chops because they know things will be missed by us seeing so many people and spending the majority of our day being data entry clerks on the good old mandated EHR.

    • Pat
      September 29, 2013 at 12:26 am

      Don’t let the patients off the hook- lawyers are loaded guns sitting in the table, waiting for someone to pick them up,, aim, and fire, to alleviate anger, guilt, or just for a nice cash prize.

  2. Dave Mittman, PA, DFAAPA
    September 25, 2013 at 1:43 pm

    Doug: Just a comment on what you wrote. You wrote “A new study shows that even in states with medical liability caps, doctors still fear getting sued and because of this order more diagnostic tests”. I would submit we order tests not because we fear a suit, but to arm ourselves with the information needed IN CASE we do get sued. More tests will not decrease a lawsuit or the chance of being involved in one. More information will show you did the “right” thing when some expert witness or lawyer grills you to determine just what you were thinking.
    Just a point.
    Dave

  3. Madelyn Sieraski
    September 25, 2013 at 11:45 am

    Once upon a time long long ago. I knew someone who got sued. Not only was the legal part of the process horrible but they were not allowed to talk to anyone about it. ANYONE – not family, partners, friends. They had to walk around in miserable silence. This person was friend and mentor to many. It was very obvious something was going on. The only answer was “can’t talk about it”

    • Dr Phil
      September 26, 2013 at 10:51 am

      They could not talk about it, not out of medical necessity but because the lawyers who are part of they medical insurance are trying to minimise any cost/liability.

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