Unnecessary Medical Tests Identified
A new report sponsored by the American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation has documented 45 medical procedures that are often unnecessary. This confirms a previous study that found nearly a third of medical procedures are often unnecessary.
The report and campaign, called “Choosing Wisely,” aims to inform consumers, patients and doctors of the unnecessary testing and treatments that are estimated to cost between $600 and $700 billion per year in the U.S.
Nine different groups of doctors – representing 375,000 doctors in total – have teamed up to identify 45 different procedures that are unnecessary in many cases. These include the American College of Physicians, American College of Cardiology, American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, American Academy of Family Physicians, American College of Radiology, American Gastroenterological Association, American Society of Clinical Oncology, American Society of Nephrology, and the American Society of Nuclear Cardiology.
Among the procedures that “should be questioned” according to the report, are:
— Taking X-rays for low back pain. Many lead to unnecessary back surgery.
— Cardiovascular stress tests for healthy persons.
— CT or MRI head scans in cases of fainting and other minor symptoms.
— CT scans for children’s appendicitis. Ultrasound is less expensive and more accurate.
— Repetitive colonoscopies within a ten year period for healthy persons.
— PET, CT, and bone scans for early prostate and breast cancers. Many scans lead to unnecessary surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.
“We’re not saying you should never do these things,” Dr. Christine Cassel, executive director of the project, told the Washington Post. “We’re saying that these are things that are often overused. So, if you think you need it or your doctor recommends it, raise the question: ‘Do I really need this?’ ”
The report also discourages prescribing antibiotics for sinus infections, as most of these infections are not produced by bacteria.
The National Academy of Sciences reported in 2005 that 30% of spending by the medical industry for medical procedures was wasteful and/or unnecessary.
The new report is available at www.choosingwisely.org
Many of these sometimes-questionable tests, including CT scans, PET scans and MRIs, have been shown to produce radiation at levels known to cause cancer.