Tuesday, 29 March 2016 - 13:50
Doctors terrified US lawsuit culture coming to Netherlands
An increasing number of Dutch doctors are concerned that the American "lawsuit culture" is heading towards the Netherlands. Doctors are so worried that a patient, relatives or health insurers will file a lawsuit against them, that they often perform treatments just so the patient can feel that everything possible was done, according to a survey by Stichting Beroepseer and VVaa, NRC reports. According to the study, two thirds of respondents warn that a lawsuit culture is raising its head in Dutch healthcare. Doctors fear lawsuits from patients if they did not try all possible treatment options, even if from a professional point of view they know that a certain treatment will have little effect. 80 percent indicated that they sometimes perform treatment other than what they themselves deem best. Nearly 70 percent indicated that they regularly provide treatment just to "give the patient the feeling that the maximum was done". The researchers find this "concerning". "More is not necessarily better. Over treatment brings its own risks with it. A caregiver must be able to autonomously give his opinion", the write. "Fear is a bad counselor here. A possible lawsuit culture puts the trust relationship between patient and caregiver under pressure." Doctors are in a dilemma, according to the study. On the one had they face pressure from patients and their families to do more. And on the other the government and health insurers are telling them to be more restrained with treatments. The study led by Thijs Jansen of the University of Tilburg and done among 1,100 doctors. According to the news agency, this is the first study into "defensive medicine" done in the Netherlands.