Categories: Medical Malpractice Defense,

A new online decision-making tool could cut down on the number of potentially unnecessary tests a heart patient must undergo in the diagnostic process. According to medical malpractice defense lawyers in Florida and New York, the web-based program could also cut down on the number of medical malpractice lawsuits that are linked to the procedure for diagnosing common illnesses such as heart disease and certain kinds of cancer.

Most physicians rely on imaging tests to help diagnose diseases and pinpoint the cause of an illness. But with the diagnostic program, doctors and specialists will be able to eliminate many of the tests that patients must undergo before coming to a definitive solution. But the extensive rounds of testing are expensive, and grueling, and many doctors hope to avoid putting their patients through that.

Overtesting and overdiagnosis can often cause physicians to pursue treatments that their patients do not need, and that could potentially even harm the patients if they react badly to the wrong kind of treatment. In an effort to reduce the risk to patients, researchers at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles came up with an online questionnaire to help the participating doctors to decide whether or not they would administer a test in a given scenario. Their responses were then measured against the recommendations given by the American College of Cardiology.

The study was conducted from mid-2010 through the beginning of 2011, and the participants came from three major cardiology practices centered in St. Louis. All the patients involved had the same private insurance provider, and the company suspended its usual authorization requirements to allow doctors free reign in treatment and diagnostic testing. 100 doctors ran tests for 472 heart patients, focusing on three of the most common cardiac imaging tests—an MRI to indicate heart muscle function, stress echocardiography to indicate how the heart works in an ultrasound, and CT angiogram to reveal blood vessel blockage in a high-grade X-ray.

The researchers found that, using the decision-making tool during the course of the study, inappropriate or unnecessary tests decreased in usage from 22 percent to 6 percent, and studies that the ACC considered appropriate for treatment increased from 49 percent to 61 percent. The high levels of success in the study have indicated that the web-based program has a high chance of succeeding in hospitals across the country.

Leading doctors in cardiac imaging research have expressed interest in the program, saying that it will help determine the best course of care for each particular patient. Not only will the elimination of unnecessary tests cut down on expenses for patients, but also more precise testing may prevent physicians from misdiagnosing their patients. Florida medical malpractice defense lawyers say that the number of doctors who face lawsuits from extensive testing may decrease as more practical resources are developed.

The Florida medical malpractice defense attorneys at leading law firm Lubell Rosen represent any doctor or other medical professional who is facing legal action as a result of misdiagnosis, overtesting, or any other medical complication.