According to a recent survey, 97 percent of emergency room doctors say that they ordered potentially unnecessary scans due to fears of malpractice lawsuits. All told, nearly $210 billion is spent each year on testing that may not be medically necessary or helpful to patients. Doctors say that they order the tests because they don’t want to miss or misdiagnosis an illness even if there is little chance of one being present.
Doctors also said that they thought that they or other staff in their emergency departments were ordering too many tests. While the tests are used to eliminate even the slightest doubt that may exist about a patient’s condition, an unnecessary test could harm a patient. In some cases, a test may indicate a false positive for a condition that a patient may not have.
In cases where a patient may have an illness or condition, it may not be causing any symptoms. This means that the condition may not need to be treated, but doctors may feel pressured to eliminate the issue for fear of potential patient backlash. To fix the issue, some medical professionals have lobbied for safe harbor provisions that would allow them to avoid unnecessary testing without being exposed to possible lawsuits.
If physician errors lead to a misdiagnosis or failure to find a potential health issue, it could be grounds for a medical negligence lawsuit. Patients who were harmed by the mistakes of a doctor or other medical professional may be entitled to compensation for the damages that have been sustained. In addition to naming the doctor as a defendant, the hospital where a mistake occurred may also be held liable under theory of vicarious liability.