A CEO from Wolverine Software recently asked me how many of the tests physicians order are done primarily to prevent medical malpractice suits. The following is how I answered his question.
I don’t know if physicians ever order tests to prevent lawsuits. I think they are ordered mostly to pad pocketbooks of physicians and hospitals.
After all, a physician can hardly say he orders tests to pad his bill. It sounds so much better to say, “I order many tests and x-rays to prevent lawsuits.” As an expert medical witness for many years I do not recall a single malpractice case being brought only on the basis of la ack of lab results and x-rays.
Most of the physicians you know are genuinely altruistic, kind people who entered medicine to care for their fellow man. However; from my observations the moral compass of yesteryear has swayed greatly. Perhaps this is more apparent than real. The physician of today has extremely limited diagnostic skills compared to the physician of years gone by. Maybe all the additional testing is necessary so they are not clueless.
Another factor now is money seems to have greatly clouded the landscape and medicine has become more of a “what can I make” atmosphere.
This is best attested to in simply watching the number of people who enter family practice versus the number of people who enter cardiology. A family practitioner recently said to me that he has to work all day to make what a cardiologist makes in one half hour. That is not much of an overstatement. It is also the reason I feel, if not the main reason, family practice is a dying specialty.
Very shortly people will have to self-diagnose their illness and then decide what specialty it fits in. If they get it wrong the specialist just tells them what they do not have. Of course the specialist cannot diagnose anything outside of their specialty, but they can tell you with certainty what you do not have. Even that is questionable with their limited scope of knowledge. It is appalling and inexcusable!
All of these reasons are probably responsible for the United States to rank behind the rest of the world in medical care.