A Daily news digest by Jasper van Santen

Do You Really Need That Medical Test? – NYTimes.com

In News, Nonsense, Really?!? on April 10, 2012 at 08:30

Do You Really Need That Medical Test? 

Of course to really reduce Health Care costs… there needs to be malpractice reform!! Doctors need to pay very high insurance costs, because they may be sued for any reason by highly  litigious lawyers /patients. Rather than just paying for your doctor, you end up paying for your doctor and his lawyer.  They doctor, terrified of lawsuits, is also more likely to send you for unnecessary tests, for which you are again paying a doctor and his lawyer.  The real Problem here…Ambulance Chasing  LAWYERS

 

If health care costs are ever to be brought under control, the nation’s doctors will have to play a leading role in eliminating unnecessary treatments. By some estimates, hundreds of billions of dollars are wasted this way every year. So it is highly encouraging that nine major physicians’ groups have identified 45 tests and procedures (five for each specialty) that are commonly used but have no proven benefit for many patients and sometimes cause more harm than good.

Many patients will be surprised at the tests and treatments that these expert groups now question. They include, for example, annual electrocardiograms for low-risk patients and routine chest X-rays for ambulatory patients in advance of surgery.

The doctors were prodded into action by a conscience-provoking article by Dr. Howard Brody, director of an institute that explores ethical issues in health care, published in The New England Journal of Medicine in early 2010. Dr. Brody criticized the performance of medical groups during the health care debates, saying they were too concerned about protecting doctors’ incomes while refusing to contemplate measures (beyond malpractice reform) to reduce health care costs.

He urged each specialty society, using rigorous scientific approaches, to develop “top five” lists of tests and treatments whose elimination for major categories of patients would save the most money quickly “without depriving any patient of meaningful medical benefit.” A foundation established by the American Board of Internal Medicine financed a successful test of the approach in three primary care specialties and then encouraged a broad range of specialty groups to develop their own lists.

The first nine, including cardiology, oncology, radiology and primary care, issued “top five” lists last Wednesday. Among items on those lists are: cardiac stress tests for annual checkups in asymptomatic patients; brain imaging scans after fainting; antibiotics for uncomplicated sinus infections that are almost always caused by viruses, which are not treatable with antibiotics; imaging of the lower spine within the first six weeks after suffering back pain; and bone scans for early prostate and breast cancer patients at low risk of metastasis.

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