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    Defensive medicine: A symptom of uncertainty?

    Finucane, LM, Greenhalgh, SM, Mercer, C and Selfe, J ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9931-4998 (2022) Defensive medicine: A symptom of uncertainty? Musculoskeletal Science and Practice, 60. p. 102558. ISSN 2468-8630

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    Abstract

    Defensive medicine is a well-documented phenomenon and refers to the practice of over-cautious management of patients, leading to excessive clinical activity such as over–investigation, unnecessary appointments and additional interventions. Adopting this approach is not in the best interest of patients and can lead to clinical reasoning being replaced by lists, guidelines and algorithms which do not consider the complexity of a patients presentation or the reasoning inherent in good clinical judgement. The drivers of defensive medicine are varied and include a high level of uncertainty alongside other factors including clinical experience with past cases, system pressures and patient expectations. This paper explores these drivers and considers strategies on how best to avoid a defensive medicine approach. It reinforces the need to adopt a patient centred focus and use sound clinical reasoning to support the management of patients.

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