American Physicians May be Over Testing Patients

American Physicians May be Over Testing PatientsAs the use of several medical tests on routine visits becomes more commonplace in American medicine, some doctors have started to wonder whether all those diagnostics could be harming patients' health and sending healthcare costs higher.

According to HealthDay, new evidence suggests exactly that, and has some doctors questioning the use of many current tests.

"There is clear overuse or misuse of certain kinds of tests for certain patients," said Dr. Steven E. Weinberger, executive vice president and chief executive officer of the American College of Physicians.

Experts say that while the unnecessary procedures cost billions in wasted dollars, the true cost arises from patients who may see higher health risks associated with the testing, according to Dr. Anthony Shih, executive vice president for programs of the Commonwealth Fund, a private health policy research foundation.

"Although most patients are aware that procedures carry some risks, they are less aware that tests carry risks," he said.

HealthDay states diagnostic testing carries three main risks. Some risks are directly related to the actual tests, such as radiation exposure, while another is related to the risk for a false positive, which may lead to many unnecessary tests and procedures with more potential health hazards. Also, there is the risk that a condition that would not have been clinically significant is identified, and risky procedures may be used to treat it.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, improved care may come from asking doctors more questions about treatment and procedures. Speaking more openly with a physician will likely lead to better results, quality, safety and satisfaction.

"Unnecessary testing is not necessarily benign," Weinberger concluded. "It can lead to situations that can pose health risks to patients."