The notion of defensive medicine – the concept of ordering test upon test or require more office visits to avoid being sued – has come under a great deal of scrutiny, of late.
In a recent New York Times article, Aaron E. Carroll, a professor of pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine, writes that “what might help physicians avoid being sued is getting along better with their patients. Or at least, they could become better communicators.” Carroll cites several studies where patients noted that a lack of communication led to low satisfaction as well as an increased chance that they sued their physicians.
The bottom line is that patients who feel as if they don’t know what is happening, or don’t fully understand the risks due to poor (or no) communication from the physician are much more likely to sue. It also stands to reason that physicians who don’t communicate effectively do this across the board – i.e. they don’t communicate effectively with all of their patients, not just a few. Therefore these physicians will stand a much better chance of being sued.
It’s not greedy lawyers, and it might not even be poor health care – it could just be patients who don’t have a full understanding of what is happening to them.
The full article can be read here.
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