What to Do If Your Doctor Orders Unnecessary Tests?
Physicians and patients generally agree that unnecessary testing is a serious issue for the healthcare system. However, unnecessary testing and procedures bear far more significant consequences on a patient than on the physician. While some unnecessary testing, procedures, and treatment may not result in injuries, others can have lifelong consequences on a patient. Those who suffer injuries following an unnecessary medical procedure may have a medical malpractice claim against the treating healthcare provider. At O’Connor, Parsons, Lane & Noble, our medical malpractice attorneys are respected throughout New Jersey and the country for the compassionate advocacy we provide and the results we are able to obtain.
Unnecessary Medical Testing, Procedures, and Treatment in New Jersey
New Jersey maintains a series of laws designed to protect the rights of hospitalized patients, children, and others who receive care or treatment from medical providers.
In most cases, the law prohibits doctors from ordering medical testing that is not reasonably necessary for diagnostic reasons. When unnecessary medical testing, procedures, and treatment stem from medical negligence or misconduct, the patient may be entitled to recover compensation through a New Jersey medical malpractice lawsuit.
Types of Unnecessary Medical Testing and Procedures
Screening and preventative care are often valid reasons for additional medical testing. However, overtreatment is a cause of preventable harm and a significant contributor to unnecessary healthcare expenditure. Reducing overtreatment is critical to improving patient-centered care and ensuring the health and safety of patients.
A systematic review in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) identified some of the most overused medical treatments in the country. Some of the leading common unnecessary medical tests include:
- Computed tomography pulmonary angiography,
- Computed tomography in any patients with respiratory symptoms,
- Carotid ultrasounds,
- Aggressive management of prostate cancer,
- Supplemental oxygen for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease,
- Surgery for meniscal cartilage tears,
- Nutritional support for those in inpatient treatment, and
- Overprescription of antibiotics.
Another study revealed that doctors reported nearly 21% of overall medical care, 22% of prescription medications, almost 25% of medical tests, and over 11% of procedures were unnecessary.
Reasons Behind Unnecessary Medical Procedures
According to a National Survey of Physicians, physicians agree that unnecessary tests and procedures are a serious problem. Nearly 73% of physicians in the survey stated that unnecessary tests and procedures are a serious problem. A similar percentage of physicians said that the average doctor prescribes an unnecessary procedure or test at least once a week.
One of the leading reasons doctors say they order unnecessary tests is because patients request they order certain testing and they want to keep their patients happy. . In addition to the data gathered from the survey, other reasons for unnecessary testing may include screening for diseases or illnesses, practicing defensive medicine, and, of course,generating the maximum amount of profit per patient.
It isn’t surprising to learn that one of the reasons doctors order unnecessary tests is to make money. Doctors bill the insurance company for every test performed, which, depending on the physican’s compensation arrangement, may result in more money in the doctor’s pocket.
Despite research indicating that physicians feel they have a significant degree of responsibility to ensure their patients avoid unnecessary treatment, unnecessary testing and procedures continue to be a growing concern for patients.
Consequences of Unnecessary Medical Testing
Many physicians may purport that more is better—more screening, more testing, more medication, and more treatment. However, this outdated practice can lead to serious consequences for patients. Most significantly, unnecessary medical testing, procedures, surgeries, and other treatment can negatively affect patient health. Patients may suffer adverse health conditions related to prolonged exposure to medical devices, drug interactions, psychological trauma, and injuries during unnecessary procedures or surgery. In many cases, interventional testing can cause adverse events due to the test itself, and the risk may not be worth the benefit.
Our attorneys know how to identify situtations where patients have suffered injury as a result of unnecessary medical care. We’re here to help you recover when a physician’s actions cause you harm.
Liability for Unnecessary Medical Testing
In New Jersey, medical malpractice is a particular type of professional negligence by a qualifying healthcare provider. Medical negligence refers to situations where the healthcare provider’s actions deviated from or fell below the acceptable standards of care. When this negligence causes you to sustain injuries, become ill, or experience the worsening of a condition, you may be entitled to compensation from your healthcare provider.
In the context of unnecessary medical testing and procedures, you must establish the four primary elements of a compensable medical injury claim. The elements include establishing that:
- The healthcare provider owed the injured patient a duty to adhere to a standard of care;
- The healthcare provider’s actions exhibited a breach of the legal duty of care owed;
- The provider’s breach proximately caused or contributed to the patient’s injury; and
- The victim suffered damages because of the incident.
Further, under New Jersey law, the victim of a medical injury must support their claim with expert testimony. In fact, selecting the appropriate expert in a medical malpractice case is critical, as the doctor will certainly be able to find another physician in their field to offer a voice in support of their decision. Thus, identifying a compelling and relatable expert witness can often make the difference in a medical malpractice claim involving unnecessary medical testing. At O’Connor, Parsons, Lane & Noble, we work with a nationwide network of highly qualified and reputable medical experts we routinely rely upon to assist with our clients’ cases.
New Jersey Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations
In addition to meeting New Jersey’s strict medical malpractice causation standards, patients must adhere to the statute of limitations. A statute of limitations defines the amount of time a person has to bring a claim. Claims filed after the statute of limitations expires are time-barred and will not be heard by the court. That’s why it’s essential that you reach out to an attorney as soon as possible once you discover your injury.
New Jersey’s medical malpractice law gives patients two years to file a claim. The two-year clock starts when the patient knows or should have known of the medical error. There are a few narrow exceptions to this two-year statute of limitations. Our attorneys can assist you in understanding your rights and remedies in light of the statute of limitations.
Did Your Doctor Order Unnecessary Medical Testing?
If you recently suffered new or worsening injuries as a result of unnecessary medical testing or an unnecessary procedure, reach out to the New Jersey medical malpractice lawyers at O’Connor, Parsons, Lane & Noble. We can help you understand what to do if your doctor orders unnecessary tests. Our dedicated team of medical negligence lawyers has more than 100 years of combined experience obtaining the results our clients deserve. We understand what your family is going through and strive to make the recovery process as easy on you as possible. To learn more about O’Connor, Parsons, Lane & Noble and to schedule a free consultation with one of our New Jersey medical malpractice attorneys. You can also reach us through our online contact form. We accept medical malpractice cases on a contingency basis, meaning we will not bill you for our services unless we succeed in obtaining compensation on your behalf.