Doctors routinely overuse testing for both serious and minor medical conditions. The Annals of Internal Medicine published a study indicating that hospitals reported overuse of testing in the majority of situations. Hospitals were surveyed and presented with practice patterns for two common clinical vignettes: both preoperative evaluation and syncope. The respondents were provided one of four versions of the different vignettes, each with identical clinical information presented in different ways. Respondents were then asked to determine what they think most hospitalists would recommend under each scenario.
The results revealed that the majority of hospitalists would overuse testing. In fact, overuse was reported in between 52 and 65 percent of postoperative evaluations. Overuse of testing was also reported in between 82 and 85 percent of syncope situations. An experienced New York medical malpractice lawyer knows that the more tests and procedures that are performed, the greater the chances of mistakes being made in the testing process or in the diagnosis. This can lead to serious medical problems, unnecessary and painful treatment, and incorrect diagnoses. Whenever a victim is harmed by medical mistakes or errors made by physicians, including the overuse of unnecessary testing, the victim needs to be compensated for losses caused by these medical errors.
Overuse of Testing Can Have Serious Consequences for Patients
The Wall Street Journal warns that when doctors overuse testing, patients may experience medical complications. One example that was given was when a patient undergoes an unnecessary cardiac stress test. The test could lead to a false positive, which in turn could result in a high-risk cardiac catheterization. Something could go wrong at any stage of this treatment process, and the patient could be harmed by a medical error in a procedure that did not need to happen in the first place.
Another example is that when a patient is treated with an antibiotic unnecessarily when the patient really has a viral infection, the unnecessary medication could cause the patient to suffer serious side effects.
The Wall Street Journal looked at some of the reasons why this unnecessary testing happens. One reason is to reassure the patient. Another reason is because doctors and hospitals may have a financial incentive for ordering more tests and treatments. Defensive medicine is cited as another possible reason for testing, although past studies have suggested that fear of medical malpractice lawsuits does not generally result in a significant increase in the number of tests that doctors perform on patients.
One of the possible solutions proposed to reduce this unnecessary testing is to institute better communications procedures and to change the way in which patients are compensated when something goes wrong.
The University of Michigan, for example, implemented a communication and resolution program that the Journal reports has been successful and that is being dubbed the "Michigan model." The goal of the Michigan Model, which is being tried at other facilities, is to encourage full disclosure when medical errors are made. Patients are told of the mistakes and offered financial compensation, allowing for speedy resolution of problems that doctors cause.
It remains to be seen if this will be an effective way of reducing unnecessary testing, or of compensating patients who suffer harm. It is clear, however, that somethings needs to be done because patients do not deserve to be hurt by doctors who order unnecessary tests.
For more information about how a medical malpractice attorney in New York can help you with your medical malpractice case, contact Jonathan C. Reiter Law Firm, PLLC. Call 212-736-0979 or visit http://www.jcreiterlaw.com and schedule a free consultation today.