Fear of lawsuits is leading to unnecessary imaging

In addition, 85% of respondents said too many diagnostic procedures, including blood and urine scans, were ordered at their hospitals.  “We believe that the existing desire in modern U.S. health care, to minimize and even eliminate any diagnostic uncertainty, is a primary contributor to our current, resource-intensive approach,” write the study authors.  “While this professional culture may be well-intentioned, in the case of advanced imaging it has not only failed to improve patient outcomes, but has also led to overdiagnosis and overtreatment, resulting in substantial harm.”

Reasons given for the overtreatment by the respondents include patient and family expectations, desire to follow norms, saving time and pressure to increase reimbursement.  Another reason for the excessive testing is fear of being sued.  “As long as the specter of liability is so prevalent, it may be difficult to convince EPs to change their practice patterns,” the author write. “At the same time, it would be useful to educate EPs that the actual risk posed by legal liability is likely lower than the perceived risk, which may allay these fears.”

REFERENCE:  Fierce Medical Devices; 07 APR 2015; Varun Saxena

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