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Study: Doctors order tests out of fear of lawsuits
Question of the Day
Doctors who have been sued in the last five years were more likely to order tests defensively, said Robert Miller, a Temple University medical student who helped lead the study and presented the results at the conference. The authors said similar studies are needed on defensive imaging in other specialties.
Dr. Lawrence Wells, a Philadelphia surgeon who participated in the study, said doctors learn to develop “a radar” for problem patients.
“It’s disheartening” to be sued, he said. “Someone’s accusing you of a bad outcome or a wrong,” and that can affect how a doctor behaves the next time he sees a similar case.
Patients need to trust their doctor’s judgment on what is needed, Wells said.
On Tuesday, Obama made a budget proposal that includes money to help states rewrite malpractice laws. Possible measures include caps on awards. The administration also has proposed health courts where specially trained judges rather than juries would decide such cases.
Questions to ask about a medical test:
_Is it truly needed? How will it change my care?
_Have you or another doctor done this test on me before?
_Does the test involve much radiation and is there an alternative that does not?
_How many images are needed?
_Do you have a financial stake in the machines that will be used?
Orthopedics group: http://www.aaos.org/
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