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  • $30.1 Million NYC - Medical Malpractice Case
  • $15 Million Manhattan - Medical Malpractice Case
  • $3 Million Queens - Wrongful Death Case
  • $5.5 Million Bronx - Birth Injury Accident
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New York City Medical Malpractice Law Blog

Does defensive medicine really prevent litigation?

By Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff & Wolff, LLP. posted in Doctor Errors on Thursday, October 20, 2016.

Most people are familiar with the Hippocratic Oath by which all doctors and medical professionals live. But a doctor's duty to make the best judgments possible and to do no harm is often mired by the looming threat that if they fail to meet these expectations, they could face litigation as a result.

Most people are familiar with the Hippocratic Oath by which all doctors and medical professionals live. But a doctor's duty to make the best judgments possible and to do no harm is often mired by the looming threat that if they fail to meet these expectations, they could face litigation as a result.

As a way to avoid medical malpractice lawsuits, more and more doctors are practicing what is being called defensive medicine. But as a 2013 article for the National Center for Biotechnology Information explains, doctors who perform medical treatments and procedures simply to avoid litigation are not doing patients any favors. In fact, they could be doing more harm than good.

Defensive medicine could put you at risk

One way defensive medicine puts patients at risk is through unnecessary treatments and surgeries. While a doctor may think that ordering immediate treatment or an aggressive surgery is helping a patient, the fear of litigation may cause the doctor to misdiagnose their patient or order surgery that may only lead to further injury.

Another way defensive medicine harms patients is because it can cause some doctors and nurses to over analyze a situation, delaying treatment and costing a patient precious time. On the other hand, a doctor may not analyze the situation enough, leading to early discharge that could end in further injury or death.

Finally, defensive medicine can cause medical professionals to alter their practices in the hopes of minimizing their exposure to prospective lawsuits. Changes may include spending less time with a patient or not communicating crucial details, which may lead to a lower standard of care in the end.

Know your risk, know your rights

Even though the Hippocratic Oath demands that doctors do no harm, the fear-driven decision to practice defensive medicine may be doing the exact opposite. As such, medical professionals need to carefully consider the decisions they make regarding a patient's health while patients should look into their rights in the event their doctor does more harm than good.

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