You may not have heard of defensive medicine, which according to Policy & Medicine, occurs when doctors run excessive tests and do additional procedures because they are afraid of malpractice lawsuits. Not to be confused with preventive medicine and treatment, which involves proactive steps to ensure patients stay healthy and live a full life, defensive medicine can lead to errors in execution and evaluation, which can ultimately harm patients. According to the Western Journal of Emergency Medicine, defensive medicine adds between $50 billion and $65 billion to medical costs annually.
Why it’s bad for the patient
Fear based medicine can prove harmful to patients. The reasons include:
- It can prompt doctors to avoid high-risk patients, referring them to a specialist when time and immediate treatment is essential.
- It can prompt doctors to avoid potentially life-saving procedures because they are high-risk.
- Extra tests can cause additional or more severe physical and mental health issues than the condition they are supposed to help treat.
- A high volume of tests stresses the system and overburdens technicians, increasing the chances of making mistakes.