An estimated one fifth to one third of U.S. health-care costs, at least $500 billion a year, goes toward tests and treatments that do not benefit patients, according to an article in Newsweek. It has been proposed that every medical specialty has at least five procedures that are done at a high cost, but do not benefit patients. These unnecessary procedures are not only costly to your wallet but could also harm you physically. Dr. Elliott Fisher of Dartmouth Medical School says that “Unnecessary care kills 30,000 Americans every year.”
Some unnecessary procedures include antibiotics for upper-respiratory infections (the drugs kill bacteria, not the viruses that cause colds), Pap tests for women under 21 (solid research shows that they find things that lead to unnecessary interventions but would clear up on their own), and me-too drugs that are no more effective than older versions (anything other than diuretics for first-line treatment of high blood pressure). X-Rays and MRIs are also getting called into question as unnecessary. The article states, “About 80 percent of adults over 40 have a bulge or other deformation in their lower back that makes surgeons think “operate”—but no pain. So when such an “abnormality” shows up on a CT or MRI, attributing a patient’s pain to it is probably nonsense. In fact, the vast majority of lower-back pain is caused by muscle sprains.” So here, they find it not necessary to have a scan done for such injuries.
This is not to say that physicians purposefully perform these tests, but many do not subscribe to some of the research that has been done that supports the idea about these procedures. An essay in in PLoS Medicine, written by R. Scott Braithwaite of the New York University School of Medicine, suggests that insurance covers 100 percent of effective diagnostic tests and treatments, but little to nothing for less effective ones.
If you have any questions or concerns about medical procedures that may have been unnecessary, please contact the Medical Malpractice Lawyers.