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Legal liability

When harm from healthcare delivery occurs

"Defensive medicine" and good care

Lab requisition form with many check marksDefensive medicine:
  • is excessive investigation
  • yields low probability of abnormal result
  • often stems from fear of litigation
  • is neither necessary nor good medicine
Physicians best defend themselves with good care and by showing that their care was that of a reasonable physician in similar circumstances. They should be able to demonstrate that they:
  • took an adequate history
  • did an adequate exam
  • had adequate knowledge
    • clinical
    • policies of authoritative medical organizations
    • policies and procedures of the facility
  • applied their knowledge appropriately
  • made a reasonable diagnosis/differential diagnosis
  • treated appropriately given the available resources

The clinical notes and records should provide evidence of the care provided.