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Doctors may provide unnecessary care to avoid malpractice suits

Medical care can be expensive. Between co-payments for appointments and so-called routine testing, a North Adams patient may be concerned over the price of getting and staying healthy. Reports show that some physicians actually may be providing more care than necessary in an effort to avoid accusations of medical negligence. However, there is a recent push for doctors to be more concerned about the rising cost of health care.

In an effort to raise awareness, the American College of Physicians has put together tutorials that discourage doctors from conducting unnecessary procedures. The tutorials have been downloaded more than 22,000 times. The group also published a list of situations in which certain tests will not provide patients much value, such as a patient with lower back pain being told to have an X-ray.

According to a 2009 Harvard study, medical bills spurred 62 percent of bankruptcies in the United States. What’s more, a Duke University survey in 2013 found that in order to cut costs, nearly 10 percent of the 254 cancer patients surveyed did not take the tests their doctors had recommended. Additionally, one in five cancer patients interviewed said they were taking less medicine than prescribed, and one in four simply no longer filled their prescriptions.

One of the reasons physicians may be overly thorough is because they fear a medical malpractice suit. Should a doctor fail to diagnose an issue or otherwise be found negligent, he or she risks litigation. Anyone whose medical situation is worsened due to a doctor error should contact an attorney to file a claim seeking compensation for damages such as hospital bills or pain and suffering.

Source: Boston Globe, “Should doctors consider medical costs?” Timothy Gower, April 13, 2014 

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