Annual medical checkups have been called unnecessary by some and might become a thing of the past under the new national health care law. But one medical malpractice attorney respectfully disagreed in an editorial for the Huffington Post. Attorney Spencer Aronfeld argued that regular physical examinations can help a patient prove causation in a medical malpractice suit, one of the three essential elements to win a claim, the other being negligence and damages. Causation is often the most difficult element to prove.
As I’ve discussed on this site, failure to diagnose is the most common form of medical malpractice. But in order to recover an award, a victim must show that the failure caused the injury, in other words, had the diagnosis been made sooner, the victim would not have been harmed in the same manner. In order to disprove causation, a doctors’ attorney might argue that even though his client failed to diagnose your cancer, for instance, the disease was too far along to do anything about it even had they found it sooner. Well if you haven’t seen a doctor in years, there is little opportunity to diagnose a disease that hasn’t yet led to serious symptoms. And of course, there is also the added possibility that the doctor will catch your ailment early allowing you a better chance at recovery.
The attorney suggests an annual physical which looks at six things, at minimum: blood work; blood pressure; temperature; review of family history; discussion of any changes in your medical condition; and a review of detrimental lifestyles choices, such as smoking, alcohol, drug use or abuse, diet and exercise.
The author acknowledged a recent study published by the prestigious BMJ (formerly the British Medical Journal), which found that general health checks did not reduce morbidity or mortality, neither overall nor for cardiovascular or cancer causes. But for him, he abides by the old axiom that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.