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Communication does more than extra tests

Doctors often turn to extra tests and paperwork to try to reduce the odds of medical malpractice. They have taken to calling this practice "defensive medicine." If one office visit or one scan will work, won't two or three be even better, reducing the odds that a mistake will be made?

There is some merit to this. In the cases when a scan or a test does miss the mark, doing it multiple times could expose the truth. However, on the whole, experts say that this does not really make errors—or the lawsuits that go along with them—less likely.

Instead, these experts say that doctors should focus more on communication with their patients.

Evidence for this exists in many studies, but one that was carried out back in 1992, looking at medical malpractice and childbirth, carries a lot of weight. In that study, which looked at people who had decided to sue, many of the patients pointed to communication-related issues as the reason for the lawsuits.

About 33 percent of the people said they did not feel that the doctor talked to them in an open and accessible manner. About 50 percent said they thought the physician had actually attempted to mislead them in some way. Around 70 percent, the vast majority, noted that they did not get any warning from the doctor regarding long-term neurodevelopmental problems that children could experience.

Even though doctors may protest in many of these cases, it's clear just from the amount of times that communication is mentioned that there is room for improvement. Those who have been harmed due to a lack of communication must know what legal rights they have to seek compensation in Illinois.

Source: New York Times, "To Be Sued Less, Doctors Should Consider Talking to Patients More," Aaron E. Carroll, accessed Feb. 19, 2016

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