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Why Doctors perform unnecessary Medical Tests?

Offbeat

Getting sick is almost like a normal thing for today’s’ generation. Weekly doctor appointments and getting yourself checked up is just like a normal routine and the physicians seem to enjoy this too. When a common man has an illness, he/she is not usually able to detect which disease or ailment he has. Doctors themselves can’t diagnose any ailment with a 100% guarantee without any proof i.e. medical reports. That’s where the medical tests come into the picture.

A medical test is a diagnosis method for doctors and clinicians to determine which illness the patient has, and so act upon the ailment as required.

As a patient, you rely on your physician or your local hospital to make an accurate diagnosis. One usually think that when a physician orders a medical test or procedure, it is necessary in order to provide you with an accurate diagnosis, which is why you consent to these tests. But, there are some physicians and hospitals that will order some tests that are unnecessary – and they simply do so in order to bill your insurance. Many doctors order tests even if they are not necessary and can harm the patient, sometimes to protect themselves from potential lawsuits or maybe sometimes because the tests are simply profitable for the physician. 

The more, the better

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There is a very thin line between excessive care and appropriate care, which many doctors mention, has become really difficult in our lawful society. The more, the better! This mentality largely arises from a health care system in which doctors can be sued for malpractice if they make a misdiagnosis or omit certain services. While some people may think unnecessary testing is harmless, it isn’t.

Performing tests that are unnecessary or procedures that are not needed to put a patient’s overall health at risk. While doctors are usually ordering tests for things that the patient doesn’t have, they could be missing the real diagnosis. Also, multiple needle punctures, blood transfusions or even colonoscopies all increase the risk for infection or other injuries that could greatly affect a patient’s life – if not become fatal.

Facts

When you are visiting a doctor, you probably think the treatment you receive has evidence from medical research. Surely, the drug you’re prescribed or the surgery you’ll undergo wouldn’t be so common if it didn’t work, right? For all the truly wondrous developments of modern medicine—imaging technologies that enable precision surgery, routine organ transplants, care that transforms premature infants into perfectly healthy kids, and remarkable chemotherapy treatments, to name a few—it is distressingly ordinary for patients to get treatments that research has shown are ineffective or even dangerous. Sometimes doctors simply haven’t kept up with the science.

Other times doctors know their role perfectly well but continue to deliver these treatments because it’s profitable and keeping their pockets full—or even because they’re popular and patients demand them. Some procedures are implemented based on studies that did not prove whether they really worked in the first place. Others were originally backed up by evidence but then were contradicted by better evidence, and yet these procedures have remained the standards of care for years or decades.

Doctors are meant to make sound decisions when choosing the tests and procedures for their patients. But, recent studies have found that there are some tests that are over-ordered and for no reason, including:

  • X-rays
  • Heart screening tests
  • CT scans
  • Colonoscopies
  • Endoscopies
  • CT and MRI scans for muscle aches
  • Imaging tests for headaches
  • Antibiotics for sinus infections, colds and other illnesses that do not need antibiotics
  • Throat cultures
  • Frequent PAP smears
  • Breast examinations
  • Blood draws
  • Ultrasounds

Some of these tests can cause unnecessary pain for a patient. In some cases, patients may also have to fast or change their lifestyle to take these tests – and they may even have to miss work just to do a scan that was only ordered for the physician’s financial gain. The reasons physicians and hospitals order unnecessary tests can vary. Some physicians do so because they are being way too cautious and do not want to miss out a single thing; which is a legitimate reason. 

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Tests can be ordered unnecessarily because:

  1. The hospital is low on cash flow
  2. The physician wants to increase the amount they can bill to the insurance company
  3. The physician has inadequate diagnostic skills; therefore, they rely on every test possible
  4. The hospital would rather test than listen to the patient or review their medical history

Undergoing unnecessary tests and procedures is taxing. You could have emotional suffering from thinking you have a more serious condition. You can suffer physical pain while undergoing those tests because the physician ordered unnecessary tests, he or she may have misdiagnosed your true condition. Now, you are facing higher medical bills trying to correct that missed diagnosis. You had to take time off work to deal with these tests and procedures that were not necessary and you deserve reimbursement for the wages you lost.

Article Credits: Janvee Garg | Chief Editor | LivePeppy

Editor: LivePeppy

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