The avalanche of personal injury lawyer advertising on TV, the internet, radio, billboards, bus stops and everywhere else isn’t just annoying. It’s potentially harmful to patients who are seeing fear-filled messages about their health treatments. That’s according to doctors who gathered at the American Medical Association’s (AMA) annual conference, as well as doctors in Texas whose concerns were highlighted in a survey.
The AMA is the premier physician organization in the country, representing more than 200,000 physicians and medical students. At their annual meeting in June, they AMA announced several new policies, including one that shines a light on how misleading and dangerous lawyer advertising can be.
Speaking about the issue, AMA Board Member Russell W. H. Kridel, M.D. said, “The onslaught of attorney ads has the potential to frighten patients and place fear between them and their doctor. By emphasizing side effects while ignoring the benefits or the fact that the medication is FDA approved, these ads jeopardize patient care. For many patients, stopping a prescribed medication is far more dangerous, and we need to be looking out for them.”
The AMA policy reflects the pervasiveness of aggressive lawsuit advertising that uses dramatized and misleading information to lure or scare people into lawsuits. We can’t avoid these ads. In fact, nationwide, personal injury lawyers spend up to $75 million each month on this advertising. These unregulated ads allege dangers from health care treatments, which can misinform consumers and deter them from getting the treatments they need – with dangerous results. That’s why the AMA recommended that such advertisements come with a warning that patients should first consult with a physician before discontinuing medications.
A survey conducted by Texans Against Lawsuit Abuse (TALA) earlier this summer found further evidence of concerns among doctors. It found that doctors are concerned these type of ads scare patients away from necessary treatment and put them at risk. In fact, 82 percent of doctors surveyed said that personal injury lawsuit ads can lead patients to stop taking their medicines as prescribed, and 81 percent said these ads can lead to patients discontinuing their medical treatments.
In response to the survey, Dr. Christine Canterbury, who specializes in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Corpus Christi Women’s Clinic, said, “Personal injury lawsuit ads can actually pose a threat to the health and safety of our patients.” Nearly 3 in 10 doctors surveyed have read or heard about a situation in which a patient suffered a negative health outcome or was put at risk because of lawyer advertising.
“As physicians, it’s our job to keep our patient’s health the top priority, but personal injury lawyers are only thinking about turning patients into plaintiffs. Patients should be cautious about what they believe from these ads and think about who is providing them the information and why,” added Dr. Canterbury.
Personal injury lawyers are not medical professionals and are not to be trusted to provide legitimate medical advice. When it comes to your health, the only person you should listen to is your doctor. Your doctor is acting in the best interest of your health. A personal injury lawyer is acting in the interest of lawsuit profits.
Click to learn more about how you can avoid falling for misleading personal injury lawsuit ads.