"Lost chance of survival": Guaranteed to increase defensive medicine?

A new trend is occurring, taking “failure to diagnose” to extreme measures. A warning to primary-care physicians everywhere:

The growing acceptance of the lost chance doctrine represents a real threat to primary care physicians, who are often the first line of defense in diagnosing potentially serious conditions. But it also provides an alternative means of compensation for malpractice plaintiffs whose cancer or other conditions should have been diagnosed earlier . . .

. . . In states that have adopted the lost chance doctrine, however, Fitzpatrick feels that the liability threshold has been lowered to such an extreme degree that “it should send shudders down physicians’ spines.” In such cases, he claims, “medical experts will always debate the rate of the cancer’s growth and the prognosis for recovery or survival if it had been diagnosed earlier. Of course, those are legitimate issues. But there are some plaintiffs’ experts out there who have never met a cancer they couldn’t have cured if only the defendant had made the correct diagnosis three months earlier.”


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