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A fear of being sued motivates doctors to order more tests

A study recently published by researchers at both Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Duke suggests that doctors' fears of being sued for medical malpractice may motivate doctors to order 5 percent more tests than they otherwise would. They apparently do this even though the research shows that the added testing has failed to yield a reduction in the filing of medical malpractice cases.

According to the researchers, medical malpractice cases in America result in over $650 billion in losses each year. This accounts for at least a quarter of all money generated for health care on an annual basis.

For the purpose of this study, the researchers studied the plight of patients at a government hospital that serves active-duty members of the military and their families. The reason they chose this type of environment is because these individuals are precluded from suing the government for the quality of medical care that they receive. Family members of active duty military are allowed to sue for damages.

In comparing the care of the servicemembers to their loved ones, the researchers found that those on active duty were subjected to far less diagnostic testing than their loved ones were.

The researchers noted that the quality of care didn't seem to decrease at military facilities when compared with nonmilitary ones when additional tests were ordered. This, therefore, seemed to lend credence to the fact that they were doing so out of concerns of being held liable for any delayed or missed diagnoses.

Delayed or missed diagnoses can cause a patient's medical condition to worsen or can take a patient's life. While certain instances of malpractice may be cut and dried, others require a Tucson attorney with an inside understanding of the medical system to review them to see if any negligence occurred.

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