Act First and Look Up the Law Afterward?: Medical Malpractice and the Ethics of Defensive Medicine
De Ville, Kenneth
Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics. 1998 Dec; 19(6): 569-589.
This essay examines the so-called phenomenon of "defensive medicine" and the problematic aspects of attempting to maintain the safest legal position possible. While physicians face genuine litigation threats they frequently overestimate legal peril. Many defensive practices are benign, but others alter patient care and increase costs in ways that are ethically suspect. Physicians should learn to evaluate realistically the legal risks of their profession and weigh the emotional, physical, and financial costs to the patient before employing a defensive measure.
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