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Can a Doctor be Sued for Over-Treatment?

Posted on in Medical Malpractice
Can a Doctor be Sued for Over-Treatment?

Doctors make many mistakes; in fact, medical errors are a leading cause of death in the United States. While doctors may be faulted for failing to treat a patient, for misdiagnosing a patient, or for committing a serious surgical error, what is rarely heard about or condemned is over-treating a patient. Over-treating a patient can be expensive for the patient, and even dangerous in some cases. Indeed, in certain situations, a patient's over-treatment may warrant a medical malpractice claim.

Over-Treatment of Patients Cause for Concern

Over-treatment may be more common than you think. An article published in The New York Times cites data reporting that on average, doctors believe that nearly 21% of all medical care is unnecessary, including 22% of prescriptions, over 11% of procedures, and nearly 25% of tests.

There are numerous reasons why patients may be over-treated in America. To begin with, there is some evidence to suggest that doctors fear malpractice suits if they do not over-treat (although only 2% to 3% of patients ever pursue litigation). Another theory is that doctors make money through over-treatment, with a whopping 70% of doctors polled conceding that physicians are more likely to perform unnecessary procedures when they profit from them.

What is the Harm in Over-Treating?

The toll that over-treating can take is serious. Sure, getting blood work done that is not necessary may not seem egregious, but even something as seemingly innocuous as this can result in increased healthcare costs. In addition to costs, patients may be subject to risks like radiation (in the form of unnecessary scans), infection (in the form of unnecessary surgeries), dangerous side effects (from unnecessary medications), and a host of other risks that are inherent with many intensive and invasive treatments and procedures.

When You Have the Right to Sue for Over-Treatment

A doctor has a duty to treat you with the same level of care that another physician confronted with the same situation would exercise. If you are over-treated and this treatment results in harm, you may be able to pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit against the negligent physician if you can prove that the doctor breached this duty of care.

Our Illinois Medical Malpractice Lawyers can Help

At the law office of Newland and Newland, our medical malpractice attorneys understand how traumatizing suffering harm at a doctor's hands can be. If you think that you have been over-treated unnecessarily for a condition, and if you have suffered economic or noneconomic damages as a direct result of that over-treatment, our lawyers can help.

We offer free phone consultations for all medical malpractice claims. Call our law office today or send us a message to schedule an appointment and learn more about your options.

(image courtesy of Luis Melendez)

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