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Doctors' decisions are affected by fear of lawsuits- says a study

Physicians treating people in emergencies may be asking patients to go for more tests// and procedures if they are afraid of being named in a lawsuit for malpractice.

In a study done by researchers from University of Iowa had said that fear of being sued for malpractice may be the guiding point in treating patients by the emergency doctors, especially for those who are more afraid of a law suit than their colleagues. These physicians may be prescribing more tests for patients even when they are at low risk from serious health complications.

The research have shown of the millions of people admitted to hospitals for emergency heart related care, have shown not to have acute coronary conditions like heart attack or unstable angina. The researchers have used a single clinical scenario and examined documented physicians' decisions to find out what are the treatments and procedures adopted by the physicians in the emergency room.

The practice of being on the defensive by the attending physicians can increase the cost of healthcare by crores each year, not to mention the financial crunch borne by the common man in coughing up the medical bills, as a huge number of population in the world remains without a medical insurance cover.

Reference: Annals of Emergency Medicine, July 2005

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