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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Useless Medical Tests

     Guess what I discovered recently when, after a change in health insurance carriers, I reestablished connection with my previous physician? It seems like when you reach a certain age doctors want to run every test they can think of even if symptoms are not present. I suppose this can be a life saver in some circumstances and physicians also need to cover themselves in case they miss something...we live in a society of people who like to sue and doctor's malpractice insurance is through the roof as it is. 
     Still, some of the stuff they order seems like overkill. A friend related to me the other day that he had gone to the doctor for a relatively minor complaint and the doctor ordered a “nuclear stress test” and a “renal scan” to rule out any heart conditions. The guy figured that because he's pushing 60 maybe it wasn't such a bad idea. Everything was negative, but the tests cost several thousand dollars and his share of the bill was $3,200. As it turns out, wasted money he really could not afford. 
     A study of more than a million Medicare patients suggested that a huge proportion had received care that was simply a waste. The researchers called it “low-value care.” But, really, it was no-value care. They studied how often people received one of twenty-six tests or treatments that scientific and professional organizations have consistently determined to have no benefit or to be outright harmful. Read more.
     Pain specialists order costly tests for illegal drugs such as cocaine and angel dust, which few seniors ever use. In a proactive effort to help stem healthcare spending, nine medical specialty organizations have published their top 5 lists of tests, treatments, or services that are unnecessary or at least should include a thorough conversation between patients and their doctors regarding the benefits and risks of before undertaking the procedure. Read more.

When to say “No” to your doctor. Forbes article 
Why Doctors Won't Do Less, Even When More Is Wasteful and Useless. CBS News article 
Seniors Beware of Useless Tests…in Certain States. Doctors in states popular with seniors have a tendency to order unnecessary medical tests, according to The New York Times. Read article.

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