Myth-information and medical malpractice

There are a lot of medical-related myths making the rounds. The following is an example of something you might encounter, including answers to some of the most popular myths.

George and Joseph American were debating the merits of the health care system over their morning cup of coffee and bemoaning the number of medical malpractice suits they saw in the news. George opined that doctors are afraid to treat patients because they might get sued. While that may be true of some physicians, the vast majority stay in medicine because, first and foremost, they want to help people. Very few leave the profession because of high insurance, low reimbursements from insurance companies or medical malpractice lawsuits.

Joseph added that he was positive that doctors must just hate attorneys. It’s kind of hard to argue with that statement, as it may have a kernel of truth to it. However, a large number of doctors respect and rely on fine attorneys who are good at what they, do and that includes helping a doctor set up their business, handling their affairs with regard to real estate transactions, advising them about contracts and how to protect their assets and even draft up estate plans. Not every lawyer on planet Earth is out to sue a doctor for medical malpractice; some even defend med mal lawsuits.

The conversation eventually swung around to med mal insurance companies and how doctors must just totally have a hate on for them too. While some doctors may cringe when insurance renewal time comes up, they have no choice in whether or not they carry liability insurance. They have to have it in case an injured patient opts to sue them.

Liability insurance offers the doctor protection from lawsuits by offering the physician a seasoned defense attorney. In reality, paying those premiums every year means they get legal assistance without paying out of pocket. Furthermore, should a court find for the plaintiff, the settlement is taken from the doctor’s insurance proceeds and he or she, generally speaking, don’t pay directly out of pocket. In the rare case where injuries exceed insurance coverage, there may be a case made to recover compensation from the doctor directly.

The George and Joseph conversation finished off with a lively debate over doctors practicing defensive medicine so they don’t get sued. This is an interesting area, as some doctors do precisely that, run test after test to find out what is wrong. The more tests, the better, so a patient can’t say the doctor didn’t do all of the necessary checks. While the patient might like that, some say all the tests are not necessary and end up increasing the price of health care.

It’s time to see the other side of this problem, which is that insurance companies, not doctors, are determining what tests should be run and what tests can’t be done. The physician may run some of the standard tests but not see anything. They need more focused tests to diagnose the patient. Critics say the high-end tests are great, but the insurance company should not pay for them. Thus, the insurance company now becomes a doctor; a company that knows only how to keep expenses low to make a profit. The same company that will tell the doctor they don’t think your X-ray or MRI is “medically necessary.”

The next time you have a conversation or debate about doctors and medical malpractice, it might be nice to mention some of the things you read about here.

Robert Webb is an Atlanta personal injury lawyer with Webb & D’Orazio, a law firm specializing in Atlanta personal injury, malpractice, criminal defense, and business law. Learn more at