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Unnecessary Tests And Treatments: Responsible Reporting Can Help

Just when I’ve lost hope that mainstream media will stop perpetuating the myth the more medicine equals better care, the Associated Press came up with this excellent piece. The article states, rightly, that “anywhere from one-fifth to nearly one-third of the tests and treatments we get are estimated to be unnecessary,” and that, “it may lead to dangerous side effects.”

Regular readers of this blog should be familiar with those concepts. I wrote recently that patients often reject evidence-based medicine. One reason is that there aren’t enough clinical guidelines available for patients to make an informed decision.

That leads to unnecessary tests, which can range from birth — with an escalating C-section rate, for instance — to death, with the copious amounts of dollars funneled into end-of-life care. And that’s ignoring the billions of dollars spent on unnecessary antibiotics, unproven cancer screening, and imaging scans.

Responsible reporting like this can help sway some patients to be more critical of their physician’s recommendations. And when a doctor discusses the pros and cons of ordering a test, patients may be more receptive to the fact that more tests will not necessarily improve their health.

It’s also encouraging that medical journals, like the Annals of Internal Medicine and Archives of Internal Medicine, are planning a series emphasizing “high-value, cost-conscious care.” But to reach patients, mainstream media needs to pick up the baton and run with it. More articles like the AP piece would be a great start.

*This blog post was originally published at KevinMD.com*


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