Some lawyers say defensive medicine isn’t real, but this doctor shows us otherwise

Lawyers and left-leaning policy wonks often discount how pervasive defensive medicine is.

WhiteCoat, an emergency physician, is almost convinced by those who call defensive medicine a figment of the medical profession’s imagination.

Then he starts his shift working in the emergency department, an experience that most lawyers and policy experts do not have by the way, and cites specific examples where he made a decision specifically to thwart potential exposure to a malpractice lawsuit.

Many of these decisions did not benefit the patient, but satisfied society’s expectation that doctors be perfect. “Clinical medical judgment has been supplanted by the demand that physicians disprove the improbable,” writes WhiteCoat. “Many physicians are afraid to practice rational medicine based upon clinical judgment and physical examination skills. No one wants to face the liability.”

So help the good doctor out. If physicians aren’t expected to be perfect, “which ‘bad outcomes’ are ok to miss in the absence of exhaustive diagnostic testing?”

I’d like to know myself.

View 9 Comments >

Most Popular

✓ Join 150,000+ subscribers
✓ Get KevinMD's most popular stories