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Are Lawsuits Leading to More Medical Tests?

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana. Some doctors claim that they order extra medical tests for patients as a defensive measure because they worry about lawsuits. Yet, until recently, there was no proof that doctors do order more tests. The New York Times recently reported on a study that found that doctors indeed do order more tests when they have a fear of a lawsuit.

According to the paper, posted on the National Bureau of Economic Research, the researchers were able to study how doctors behaved in the Military Health System, where patients are barred from pursuing lawsuits, and how doctors in similar situations behaved when treating the patient's family members who do have the right to sue. The researchers were able to study the same doctors in similar settings, handling patients with similar medical concerns. The researchers found that immunity from liability among the military doctors led to reduced spending in terms of tests and other medical procedures by 5% among the family members who could sue. 

While the New York Times reports that this could indicate that doctors are pursuing too many tests to avoid liability, it could also mean that doctors who do not face lawsuits may not always pursue the same due diligence that doctors in other settings might pursue. The standard for medical malpractice lawsuits is whether or not the doctor followed standards of care. Generally, standards of care are based upon medical consensus and research. If doctors who don't face lawsuits perform fewer tests, are these doctors following the standard of care? 

Are more tests beneficial? This isn't always clear. Sometimes tests can be invasive, or can even sometimes lead to worse outcomes. The researchers also tried to understand whether fewer testing would mean worse care for patients who cannot sue, but the researchers found that they couldn't rule one way or another whether fewer tests were beneficial or could potentially lead to harmful outcomes.

When caps on medical malpractice are put in place, researchers also see a decrease in medical spending, but these studies aren't considered as robust because there isn't always a clear control group to compare spending and testing.

At the end of the day, if you feel that you have been harmed because your doctor failed to follow the basic standards of care, you may be entitled to receive compensation for your medical costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering damages. When doctors fail to perform necessary tests, the results can be missed diagnosis, misdiagnosis, illness, and sometimes death. 

The Bowling Law Firm are medical malpractice lawyers in New Orleans, Louisiana who work closely with patients who believe they have been harmed in a medical setting. Medical malpractice cases can sometimes be more complex than other cases because patients who have been harmed will have to prove that the doctor failed to follow a standard of care. If you or a loved one was hurt due to a doctor's actions or due to a doctor's failure to take medical action, consider speaking to the Bowling Law Firm today. 

The Bowling Law Firm, A Professional Law Corporation 

1615 Poydras Street, Suite 1050 

New Orleans, Louisiana, 70112 

Phone: 504-613-4561 

Toll Free: 877-757-3539

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