Published on April 4th, 2012 | by Kim LaCapria0
Doctors’ Panels Strongly Recommend Testing Less, Hint Profit Influences Frequency
As the debate in America over health care reform rages on, one of the issues that tends to take a backseat is the notion that Americans should perhaps stop overtreating non-issues in an attempt to lower costs.
Could you imagine the outrage if the government suggested insured Americans stop seeking treatment immediately for every minor cold, hangnail and case of dandruff they suffer? There would be riots in the streets! But a panel of doctors has looked at the number of diagnostic tests performed on American patients, and suggested that not only should they be performed less frequently, but also that patients should question the tests when offered.
According to the New York Times, “a group of nine medical specialty boards” will make the recommendation today, in a move that could affect treatment standards across the United States. Dr. Lawrence Smith is physician-in-chief at North Shore-LIJ Health System and dean of the Hofstra School of Medicine. Smith was not involved in any of the panels, but concurs that overtreatment is a big issue in American healthcare today:
“Overuse is one of the most serious crises in American medicine… Many people have thought that the organizations most resistant to this idea would be the specialty organizations, so this is a very powerful message.”
Dr. John Santa of Consumer Reports also agreed, albeit a bit more cynically:
“It’s courageous that these societies are stepping up. I am a primary care internist myself, and I’m anticipating running into some of my colleagues who will say, ‘Y’ know, John, we all know we’ve done EKGs that weren’t necessary and bone density tests that weren’t necessary, but, you know, that was a little bit of extra money for us.’ ”
All nine boards are issuing guidelines concerning treatments within their disciplines that may be prone to overuse.