When most of us think about medical malpractice, we think about doctors’ errors that lead to immediate physical harm to the patient. Medical malpractice can also involve the overtreatment of a patient. The three most common types of overtreatment that can harm patients include overprescribing tests, prescription medication, and engaging in unnecessary procedures.
If you’ve been harmed by a doctor or other medical professional’s overtreatment, you may be entitled to compensation through a medical malpractice lawsuit. Dell & Dean, PLLC’s attorneys will evaluate your case, answer any questions, and help you understand your legal options. We have a proven track record of obtaining compensation for victims of medical malpractice. Contact Dell & Dean, PLLC to schedule a free case evaluation and learn more about your legal options.
How Common Is Overtreatment?
Overtreatment may be more common than many people realize. The New York Times reported that doctors believe nearly 21 percent of all medical care is not necessary. Specifically, doctors believed that 22 percent of prescriptions, over 11 percent of procedures, and nearly 25 percent of tests are unnecessary and are a form of overtreatment.
There are numerous reasons patients are over-treated in the United States. Doctors may be concerned about facing malpractice lawsuits, leading them to overtreat patients. In other cases, doctors may be under pressure from hospital administrators to overtreat patients, especially when the hospital profits from them.
What Is The Harm of Overtreating Patients?
Overtreating patients is not only unnecessary, but it can also be expensive and potentially harmful. For example, ordering unnecessary tests can increase the risk of false positives on important medical tests. Many medical conditions and conditions are diagnosed based on the results of one or more tests. The results can come back positive, negative, or inconclusive. Some of these tests have a higher false-negative or false-positive rate.
False positives can result in doctors treating patients with invasive and nonessential treatments. Nearly all medical treatments carry a potential risk of harmful side effects and outcomes. For example, unwarranted procedures like radiation, chemotherapy, and surgeries can be traumatic and painful. Some of these procedures can predispose a patient to future cancers.
Overprescribing Unnecessary Medical Can Cause Harm
When doctors prescribe unnecessary medications, the patient is at risk of suffering the adverse effects associated with that medication. In some cases, unnecessary medical treatment can cause unnecessary medical stress. Patients may need to miss significant time at work due to radiation and surgery. Patients may suffer impairments from overtreatment that cause them to become disabled and unable to return to work. In the most severe instances, overtreatment can cause serious health conditions and even death.
Doctors Must Obtain Informed Consent
Doctors are supposed to obtain the patient’s informed consent before the patient undergoes surgery. The doctor is supposed to inform the patient of the potential risks of the medical procedure, along with the benefits and the alternatives. Obtaining informed consent is a key factor in preventing overtreatment of patients.
Surgeons should clearly communicate the patients’ options with the patient. Patients should understand all of the potential complications of medical treatments, which can cause serious injuries, pain, and disfigurement. Other potential risks of unnecessary surgery can include the following:
- Blood clots
- Nerve damage
- Cardiac arrest
- Anaphylactic shock
- Adverse drug reactions
Overdiagnosis and Overtreatment in Cancer Care
Overtreatment can cause significant problems and harmful side effects in cancer care. Overtreatment can result in overdiagnosis. For example, a cancer screening test may find a lesion that may have gone away on its own or not caused additional problems. Some cancers may never cause any symptoms because they stop growing or go away on their own. Doctors should use reasonable care when recommending treatment options.
When doctors overdiagnose non-harmful cancer, it can cause patients anxiety and stress. It may also cause them to seek out alternative care with additional, unnecessary risks and side effects. Overtreating non-harmful cancers can put the patient at risk of unnecessary surgery and chemotherapy treatment. It can also cause unnecessary scarring, disfigurement, disability, and damage to otherwise healthy organs.
Proving Liability in Overtreatment Cases
If you were treated unnecessarily by a doctor and your medical condition worsened, you may be concerned about your legal options. Proving that medical treatment or treatments were not appropriate can be challenging. In medical malpractice cases, the plaintiff seeking compensation must show that the doctor deviated from accepted standards of care.
Doctors have a legal duty to treat you with the same level of care that another doctor with similar education and in a similar practice area would exercise under similar circumstances. If a doctor’s overtreatment breached his or her duty of care to you, and that negligence caused your injuries, you may be able to hold the at-fault party or parties liable through a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Testimony from Medical Experts
Discussing your case with a medical malpractice attorney can help you protect your rights and begin gathering important evidence. Many medical malpractice cases rely on testimony from medical experts. Medical experts examine your case and provide evidence that the care you received wasn’t appropriate or wasn’t what other similarly situated, reasonable doctors would have done. When the injured patient can prove all the elements in a medical malpractice case, they can recover damages.
Reasonable damages may include past and future medical expenses, additional medical costs associated with the injury, loss of income, and pain and suffering. The attorneys at Dell & Dean, PLLC will work with medical and financial experts to carefully calculate all of the damages you have and will incur due to overtreatment malpractice.
Discuss Your Case with a Long Island Medical Malpractice Attorney
The medical malpractice attorneys at Dell & Dean, PLLC understand how traumatizing it can be to suffer harm caused by negligent doctors. If you think you’ve been over-treated unnecessarily by a medical provider for a medical condition and suffered economic or non-economic damages from the overtreatment, our attorneys can help. Contact Dell & Dean, PLLC to schedule a complimentary, no-obligation consultation and learn more about how we can fight for you.