Defensive medicine's offensive flip-side

For many years, lawsuits against doctors, medical facilities and any other entity associated with the medical field for malpractice have been attacked. The attacks have come from just about everywhere, including Kentucky insurance companies, politicians and medical professionals.

Hearing the term "frivolous lawsuits" can bring to mind someone suing a hospital or a doctor in hopes of garnering a million dollar settlement. Lawyers who handle medical malpractice cases, including failure to diagnose, birth injuries or hospital negligence often find prospective jurors are biased before they can even present their case.

However, frivolous lawsuits are not that prevalent. Congress repeatedly considered passing legislation to prevent many medical malpractice lawsuits, but the reforms stalled. As a result, doctors began to practice "defensive medicine," which has resulted in higher costs for health care. One study estimates that 80 percent to 90 percent of doctors order "unnecessary" tests in an attempt to ward off medical malpractice suits. Does this result in better care for the patient?

Recently, a news story out of Chicago revealed another reason why a doctor would perform medical procedures that are not needed. The story is about a doctor who performed tracheotomies on 28 Medicare patients in the last three years. Five of the patients did not survive two weeks after the procedure. That equates to more than three times the statewide death rate in Illinois. The for-profit hospital made up to $160,000 in each case. The Chicago Tribune does not name the doctor, but alleges the hospital and the pulmonologist were profiting from the procedures.

If you believe you or someone you love has been injured due to medical malpractice, you should contact an experienced Kentucky attorney to discuss your options. There are civil recourses available to those who have been injured due to a medical professional's negligence and you may be entitled to financial compensation for pain and suffering, lost wages, medical expenses and other damages.

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