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To the Editor.—
Mr. Bergen seems to think that a doctor need only order plenty of tests to keep out of trouble. It isn't as simple as that.A patient has a lump in the breast. You are sure it is benign. Normally, you would leave it alone. But you can't do that any more because if the patient should develop cancer in that breast at any time in the future, the doctor can be sued for negligence. It's happening to a friend of mine right now—even though three years elapsed between the time he saw the patient and the appearance of the cancer. So you take out all lumps. Good medicine? No.A patient has a bellyache. It could be appendicitis, and it could be a gas bubble. Normally, you would watch. But you can't do that any more because if the patient should develop appendicitis while you are
Graves CL. Defensive Medicine. JAMA. 1974;229(4):393-394. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03230420015014