When most people think about medical malpractice, doctors’ errors that lead to immediate physical harm to the patient come to mind, such as operating on the wrong body part or improperly treating a wound, resulting in infection. Sometimes, lack of treatment is cause for a medical malpractice suit, as is a delayed diagnosis. But rarely is overtreating a patient considered to be an act of malpractice, especially one for which a patient may have a cause of action.

Overtreatment can be harmful to a patient, and in some cases, the overtreatment is unnecessary and leads to excessive patient harm. When it does, a medical malpractice claim may be appropriate.

What Is Overtreatment?

Overtreatment refers to the prescription of medications or the engagement in other forms of patient treatment, ranging from things like chemotherapy to surgery and more, that are unnecessary. Three of the most common types of overtreatment, according to an article in MedPage Today, are tests, prescription medications, and procedures.

How Common Is Overtreatment?

Overtreatment is becoming increasingly common, driving up healthcare costs and potentially leading to patient harm. The New York Times reports that out of more than 2,000 doctors surveyed, the majority of doctors believed that 20.6 percent of all medical care was unnecessary.

The reasons that doctors cited for overtreatment varied. Almost 60 percent said that patients demand unnecessary treatments, while 85 percent cited a fear of medical malpractice suit as the prime reason for overtreatment. The truth may be inspired by financial greed, though: more than 70 percent of doctors reported that physicians are more likely to perform unnecessary treatments when physicians profit from them; nearly 10 percent said that they themselves did this.

The Dangers of Overtreatment

Overtreating patients is not only unnecessary, but also expensive and potentially dangerous to patients, too. For example, unnecessary tests increase the risk of false positives, which can then lead to invasive–and nonessential–treatments. Unwarranted procedures, such as surgeries and radiation treatment, are not only often traumatic and painful, but can even predispose patients to future cancers. When unnecessary drugs are prescribed, the patient is at risk of suffering the adverse effects associated with that drug without any medical need. In some cases, unnecessary treatment not only causes undue financial stress, but can even lead to serious health complications and death in the most severe of instances.

It’s Time to Meet with a Medical Malpractice Lawyer

It can be challenging to know when your doctor is overtreating you vs. exercising the high duty of care owed to you. If you believe that you are the victim of physician overtreating, and if you have suffered harm as a direct result, it’s time to meet with a skilled Massachusetts medical malpractice lawyer to discuss your case. A consultation with the legal team at Lovenberg & Associates, P.C. is offered free of charge, and our lawyers work on a contingency fee basis. Please send us a message or call our law office today at (617) 973-9950 to get the answers you need about whether or not you have a medical malpractice case.