Defensive Medicine

Defensive medicine refers to the general practice of recommending patients for extensive medical procedures and tests to minimize the potential of not diagnosing certain conditions and illnesses.

On the surface, this can seem like a safety precaution to ensure that every possibility with regards to patients symptoms are attended to. Helping to avoid the prospect of having a rare serious disease overlooked.

But the wide array of procedures that patients would have to go through in general would take up huge resource and costs a lot of money too.

For example, a person with flu symptoms such as a running nose and sore throat can usually be fully recovered with a course of antibiotics. Defensive medicine might send the patient to and x-ray and scan the lungs to ensure that nothing is wrong there, go or an MRI to check the chest area, or even do a blood test, etc. These are all necessary or a basic cold.

Because of this wastage, government bodies often don’t suggest defensive medicine.

Yet a Doctor might still recommend them to patients so that he or she does not incur malpractice liability.

This can occur when someone has a rare deadly virus and a doctor was unable to identify it as the symptoms were judged to be benign. It might have been easily discovered with a simple blood test which was not ordered by the physician. The patient might then take legal action against the doctor.

The medical dilemma

Defensive medicine is really a huge dilemma for all the stakeholders involved.

Every person would want to have the clearest picture possible in regards to his or her medical condition. So most people would want to have their symptoms analyzed.

The biggest reason why most people do not do so is because of the medical costs of these procedures.

Doctors would understandably also want more tests to be conducted on their patients so that they can have more certainty with a patient’s diagnosis. They can also generate more direct and indirect revenue with more services ordered by patients.

But doing so would stretch the patients’ budget, and might also stretch their resources, disrupting the smooth operations of their clinics.

From the big picture perspective, a healthcare system that encourages defensive medicine practices would drive up the costs of healthcare and put stress on hospitals and polyclinics as demand for services increase.

This in turn can drive up health insurance premiums.

Insurance for doctors

Lawsuits against doctors can be filed up to 3 years after the date when the malpractice was first uncovered.

If a patient indeed has a serious disease that goes undiscovered by a doctor, then there is always a possibility of the patient taking legal action against the doctor.

Yet all this can happen due to the good intentions of the doctor who didn’t want to practice defensive medicine.

To protect themselves from such instances of legal suits, doctors can purchase medical indemnity insurance which provides coverage for legal liabilities arising from medical negligence.

The coverage amount can be used to pay for legal costs and damages.

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