Unnecessary Testing Is a Form of Medical Malpractice
Diagnosing a medical condition or disease almost always requires some amount of testing to either confirm or deny the existence of determining factors. Thus, diagnostic testing is a standard and accepted part of the practice of medicine, and does not normally indicate medical malpractice occurred. But, the availability of tests does not mean doctors are free to request a slew of unnecessary procedures unrelated to the issue at hand. A recent report on National Public Radio focused on the high rate of unnecessary medical testing that happens all over the country, and the financial waste these procedures generate. In addition to the waste of money, though, is the health risk patients are exposed to when unnecessary testing is performed. A discussion of unnecessary procedures most commonly ordered, typical reasons behind this testing, and the types of compensation a victim may be able to recover, will follow below.
Types of Unnecessary Procedures
Unnecessary testing may seem harmless, since it should not reveal anything of concern, but the procedures themselves can be dangerous, produce dangerous complications, or provoke significant pain and discomfort. Further, ordering such procedures is outside the patient’s best interest, and would not meet the professional standard of care all doctors must follow when treating patients. Certain procedures are more likely to be ordered unnecessarily, usually related to how easy they are to perform compared to the cost and the expectations of patients based on past experience, and some examples include:
- X-rays for lower back pain;
- heart screenings for healthy patients;
- CT or MRI for fainting;
- colonoscopies for general gastric discomfort;
- annual PAP smears in healthy women;
- antibiotics for complications from a common cold;
- imaging tests for headaches; and
Why They Are Ordered
Reasons why a doctor may order unnecessary tests can vary widely from the relatively innocuous to the blatantly recklessness. For example, some doctors are naturally very cautious and order a variety of testing to make sure all possibilities, however remote, are covered. Others, however, order such testing for less benign reasons that range from a desire to generate profits to outright fraud. Further, doctors can misread earlier test results, which leads to wrong and unnecessary testing in response, or use testing as a means of bypassing a review of a patient’s medical history or listening to his/her concerns. These last reasons are particularly common in medical malpractice cases and could represent negligent conduct by a physician.
Unnecessary testing can lead a person to experience physical pain, emotional trauma and financial losses – all consequences that did not have to happen. When a person is injured by a doctor’s negligent treatment, it is common to wonder what losses the doctor may be responsible for paying. Generally, an injured victim may be able to recover for pain and suffering, medical costs, lost wages and loss of earning capacity. Specifically, unnecessary testing can cause emotional trauma from believing a serious condition exists, and physical pain from the testing itself. Further, medical costs may be higher if the real problem was missed and more medical bills were generated trying to identify the correct cause. Finally, victims often miss work to have the testing performed and as a byproduct of the resulting aftermath, which sometimes impairs a person’s overall ability to work on a temporary or permanent basis.
Get Legal Advice
Medical malpractice is a serious and complicated matter that needs the attention and dedication of an experienced attorney to properly handle the claim. The attorneys at the Miami law firm of Pita Weber & Del Prado handle a wide variety of medical malpractices claims and are available to answer all your questions. Contact us for a free consultation.