Doctors’ Diagnosis: Personal Injury Lawsuit Ads Can Be Harmful to Patients’ Health
82 Percent of Doctors Agree that Personal Injury Lawyer Ads Can Lead to Patients Not Taking Their Medications as Prescribed
Statewide Survey of Doctors Finds Personal Injury Lawyer Ads Fuel Wide-Ranging Concerns for Patients
AUSTIN, TEXAS— A new statewide survey finds Texas doctors are deeply concerned about personal injury lawyer ads that target patients for medical lawsuits. The survey found that doctors are concerned these ads can be misperceived as medical information and in some cases steer patients away from their doctors to lawyers.
The survey, conducted on behalf of Texans Against Lawsuit Abuse (TALA), found that 82 percent of doctors agree that personal injury lawsuit ads can lead patients to stop taking their medicines as prescribed.
The TALA survey comes in response to a proliferation of personal injury lawyer advertising designed to recruit patients into medical lawsuits.
The groups say the survey findings underscore the need for patients to distinguish between professional medical advice and bona fide health information versus aggressive, lawsuit advertising intended to scare people about their healthcare and into a lawsuit.
“With this survey, we have a diagnosis: personal injury lawyer ads can be harmful to patients,” said TALA Chairman Marcus Jahns. “While 82 percent of doctors are concerned these ads can lead a patient to stop taking their medicines as prescribed, nearly three-quarters of those surveyed voiced concerns that patients may make health decisions based on information they see in a lawsuit ad or lawsuit referral website. This is frightening.”
“When more than half of doctors say they have seen, read or heard about patients being directed to certain health care providers from personal injury lawsuit ads, it’s time to sound the alarm bell and raise awareness of these questionable practices,” said Steven L. Gates, D.O., FACO, President, Texas Osteopathic Medical Association (TOMA).
The survey, conducted by Baselice & Associates for TALA, also found physician concerns about many negative impacts of personal injury lawyer advertising, including:
66 percent of doctors say patients have questioned their recommended course of treatment, citing concerns about claims they saw in a lawsuit ad.
88 percent of doctors agree that personal injury lawsuit ads can lead to patients raising concerns about their treatment or prescribed drugs.
81 percent of doctors agree that personal injury lawsuit ads can lead to patients discontinuing their medical treatments.
“Transparency is critical for the health of patients,” said Dr. Richard Johnston, Executive Vice President and Chief Physician Officer of USMD Health System.
Ideas to increase transparency drew overwhelming support from doctors:
94 percent of doctors agreeing that medical information websites that are operated by a personal injury law firm or lawsuit should include a clear, highly visible disclosure of their sponsorship of the website.
91 percent agreeing that plaintiff attorney advertising should provide more information on potential dangers if patient stops a treatment without first consulting their doctor.
The issue is particularly important in Texas as several Texas cities placed in the top of national rankings for personal injury lawyer advertising spending, both television and online according to a study by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform.
“Consumers need to understand that the intent of these ads is to generate lawsuits, not to provide sound health information. They should remember two very important things: Don’t believe everything you see in any ad – especially medical lawsuit ads. And, patients should always ask their doctor, not a lawyer, about health concerns,” said Dr. Gates.
The TALA physician survey findings are based on an online survey conducted by Baselice & Associates from May 18 – June 7, 2016 among N=410 Texas physicians. The margin of error to these results is +/- 4.8 percent.
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Texans Against Lawsuit Abuse (TALA) is a non-profit, statewide grassroots coalition dedicated to educating the public about the cost and consequences of lawsuit abuse, challenging those who abuse our legal system, and returning common sense and fairness to our courts. Online at www.tala.com.
Media contact: Jennifer Harris, jharris (at) jwhcommunications.com