Will More Tests Prevent Medical Malpractice Claims?
While doctors and nurses balance the pressure of properly diagnosing a condition with the responsibility of saving lives, is administering more tests the answer to preventing mistakes and subsequent malpractice claims? Also, what currently motivates physicians the most in recommending certain tests or even preventative procedures: general concern for the patient’s well-being, money, fear of potential lawsuits, or peer pressure? According to an Associated Press article, a physician survey study led by associate director of the Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation at Maine Medical Center in Portland attempts to answer these questions.
The study involved 598 cardiologists to discover why a cardiac catheterization (used to evaluate blood flow to the heart and determine the heart’s pumping abilities) would be ordered aside from clinical reasons. According to results discussed on the website of The Source for International Cardiovascular News and Education, almost one fourth of doctors noted that the fear of malpractice entered their minds when suggesting a cardiac catheterization to a patient. However, a higher percentage stated that they would order a test based on the assumption that a colleague would make the same judgment-call. Based on the study, when asked whether they recommended the test procedure to a patient to protect against a medical malpractice suit, 2.7% answered under “frequently,” 21.1% said “sometimes,” 42.0% responded “rarely,” and 34.3% noted “never.”
While the study’s scope is significant, one physician stated that the study makes an effort to elucidate regional differences in high and low numbers of doctor recommendations and utilization of test procedures. The main goal is to properly monitor the frequency of certain tests as well as keeping track of the reasons for invasive procedures taking place. Overall, the general idea seems to also focus on lowering nonclinical reasons for performing medical procedures as much as possible.
Malpractice reform seems to be an ongoing process in our country. While anyone can see how worries regarding a medical professional’s failure to diagnose, misdiagnose, or any other kind of medical malpractice would lead to excessive use of procedures, this study is sure to be one of many in examining the decision-making process of medical professionals alike. The same goes for officials who control how medical professionals are being trained on a state and national level to identify conditions that require certain procedures.