Statistics from the Institute of Medicine indicate that medical mistakes are increasing over time. The accuracy of such statistics may be questioned because a state like Illinois reports such errors differently than other states. Nevertheless, if medical malpractice is on the rise, this may in part be due to doctors and staff over treating patients.
It's been suggested that some doctors are not secure in their abilities to administer safe medical care or to correctly diagnose an illness. In such circumstances, doctors will then instead order multiple MRI screenings or increase the dosages of medications that patients take. Prescriptions and MRI scans are being used more often today than ever in the past.
Over treatment by physicians can cause harm to patients. For example, a patient that was once treated for mild viral illness ended up suffering a severe allergic reaction to the antibiotics she was given.
Orthopedic surgeons that were questioned feel that approximately 24 percent of medical tests administered are unnecessary. It has been argued that this is occurring because doctors are trying to shield themselves from medical malpractice lawsuits, but, even if this happened to be true, this has resulted in more medical mistakes rather than less.
The irony is that what is called "defensive medicine" (treating for everything so that a doctor can't be accused of missing a diagnosis) will, because it leads to more medical mistakes, ultimately lead to more medical malpractice lawsuits. Ultimately, doctors should not perform any test or procedure without making certain that such tests are needed and do not lead to even more consequences.
It is medical malpractice rather than medical malpractice lawsuits that has led to more medical fatalities.
Source: The New York Times, "More Treatment, More Mistakes," by Sanjay Gupta, July 31, 2012