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Is Your Doctor Practicing Defensive Medicine?

Steve Wagner

A recent study done by the BMJ Open analyzed multiple studies from the U.S., Britain, Australia, France, and Canada, in an effort to determine the most frequent reasons medical malpractice claims are made against physicians.

The study analyzed 34 journal articles, based on primary care physicians and their experiences. After comparing all of these, BMJ found that the most common reasons malpractice claims were filed were because doctors missed a diagnosis for cancer or a heart attack. The missed diagnoses accounted for between 26-63% of claims, and death resulted in between 15-48% of these cases.

The most common missed diagnoses after these two were appendicitis, ectopic pregnancies, and bone fractures. Those differ for children, with the most common being meningitis and cancers.

Perhaps the biggest consequence of a doctor’s error, however, is the continued impact it has on the rest of his or her patients. Not only is a misdiagnosis going to harm the original patient, but once a doctor knows they have made a critical error of that nature, they are more likely to practice what’s known as “defensive medicine”. Whether they are afraid of a medical malpractice claim, or they are simply trying not to repeat their mistakes, we see a rapid increase of treatments such as increased referrals, unnecessary prescriptions, increased diagnostic testing, and even the performance of the wrong procedures.

When a doctor is afraid of making a mistake, they are less likely to trust their gut and treat patients as needed, and they are more likely to be extremely cautious in their diagnosis and treatment process.

So what do we learn from this?

  • If your doctor has recently been involved in a medical malpractice case, they may be more hesitant to diagnose you. It is okay to get a second opinion if you don’t trust your doctor’s analysis.
  • If your doctor prescribes you medication that you are unsure of, please seek a second opinion before agreeing to take any type of steroids, antibiotics, anticoagulants, antidepressants, or antipsychotics.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor if certain tests are necessary, or press them for more information than they may be offering you. The treatment is yours, and you are hiring the doctor to perform a service for you. Don’t forget that you are in charge of what happens to your body.

Did You Suffer A Misdiagnosis? – Call Wagner Reese

Our medical malpractice attorneys are experienced in handling cases of misdiagnosis, drug injury, procedural error, and more. If you have suffered an injury at the hands of a doctor or medical staff, our lawyers are here to assist you in recovering the compensation you deserve. Call us today at (888) 204-8440 to schedule a risk and cost free consultation.


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