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What is defensive medicine?

Defensive medicine is one reason why the cost of medical care can be very high. It is by no means the only reason, but it does contribute to it, and it all stems from doctors' fears of being wrong.

Essentially, defensive medicine is when a doctor perhaps does too much to diagnose an issue. This could include using equipment that is both very expensive and technically unneeded. Some doctors see this as a way to avoid lawsuits by ensuring that they get the diagnosis right. They use every machine that they can to back up what they already know.

The problem with this, for the patient, is that it often makes medical care cost far more than it has any right to cost. When a doctor knows immediately what a patient has and then uses three more redundant tests, anyway, the patient must pay for all of those tests. Even if the patient has medical insurance, the payment comes through higher premiums and more expensive insurance for everyone.

The real danger for you, though, may not be the high cost, but the delay. What if the doctor puts off treatments for weeks so that unneeded tests can be run, and then your condition worsens? What if you have to delay the process to come up with the extra money, and the tests aren't done until it is too late? Doctors need to act with your best interests in mind, not their own.

As you can see, fear often drives doctors to delay the treatment process. If this makes your condition worse, you may have a right to compensation in Illinois.

Source: FindLaw, "Medical Malpractice Overview," accessed May. 12, 2015

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