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‘Choosing Wisely’ may not win some malpractice suits

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18th Century Statute of Lady Justice, at Castellania,  Italy. Her sword signifies the coercive power of a court,  her scales represent an objective standard by which competing claims are weighed, and her blindfold indicates that justice should be impartial and meted out objectively without fear or favor.

William Sullivan, D.O., and also a lawyer, discusses why “Choosing Wisely” won’t necessarily protect providers from malpractice suits.

He concludes:

“{Treatment} guidelines are created for many purposes. The intent of a guideline significantly affects whether the guideline will protect a physician against medical malpractice risk. Guidelines relating to payment issues should not be used for clinical or medicolegal purposes without strong clinical research supporting their conclusions. While clinical practice guidelines may be useful for both clinical and medicolegal purposes, the recommendations should be compared with current medical literature to determine whether the guidelines constitute appropriate medical care.

“Statutory guidelines and safe harbors significantly reduce a practitioner’s malpractice risk and also provide a strong deterrent to frivolous lawsuits. However, the decreased risk must be weighed against the inference of negligence that occurs if a statutory guideline is not followed, and against the potential transition of medical practice from a healing art to an exercise in checking all of the appropriate boxes to avoid liability.”

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