Our Hands Are Tied: Legal Tensions and Medical Ethics

Our Hands Are Tied: Legal Tensions and Medical Ethics

Our Hands Are Tied: Legal Tensions and Medical Ethics

Our Hands Are Tied: Legal Tensions and Medical Ethics

Synopsis

As a critical examination of the pervasive tension existing between defensive medicine and good, ethical patient care, this book investigates the impact of legalities on medical treatment. Physicians today are apprehensive about the threat of malpractice suits. Kapp explores the extent to which this fear is justified. He examines where physicians get their ideas about what the law requires and forbids, how physicians' perceptions of the law and medicine affect medical care, and whether these behavior manifestations benefit or hurt a physician's ability to practice ethically. Kapp then suggests ways medical professionals can resolve tension caused by conflicting demands and encourage more ethical care.

Excerpt

"The practice patterns of individual clinicians are fundamental determinants of the quality, ethical standards, and cost-effectiveness of health services" (Logan &Scott, 1996, p. 595). Physicians' practice patterns are influenced by a wide variety of factors, both conscious and subconscious. For at least the last century and a half, physicians have insisted that one of those factors--mainly negative in effect--is the pervasive anxiety and apprehension physicians experience about potential malpractice litigation and legal liability connected to the care that they provide to their patients (Mohr, 1993, pp. 109-121; Wachsman, 1993, p. 161).

Physicians as well as other health care professionals in the United States are constantly complaining about lawyers and the persistent Possibility of being held legally liable for decisions made and actions taken in the course of caring for patients. The vast majority of practicing physicians have long told anyone who would listen that apprehension about potential litigation and liability influences medical professionals to practice "defensively," and therefore wastefully in an economic sense.

Although they are nothing new, these complaints lately have intensified in bitterness and broadened in scope. The primary claim used to focus on the financial waste entailed in practicing defensive medicine.

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