Doctors: We Perform Too Many Unnecessary Tests and Procedures

Do you ever feel like some of the routine tests and procedures your doctor performs are unnecessary? It turns out many doctors feel that way too. Doctors from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Urological Association, and more than 20 other medical societies have contributed to a list of tests and procedures that they feel are performed too frequently, despite often being unnecessary and, in some cases, potentially harmful. The recommendations of these more than 350,000 US doctors have been compiled into a list of unnecessary tests and procedures by the ABIM Foundation (American Board of Internal Medicine) as part of a campaign called “Choosing Wisely.”

Unnecessary tests and procedures text 300x199 Doctors: We Perform Too Many Unnecessary Tests and Procedures PhotoThe campaign aims to educate patients and empower them to discuss their care with physicians. The campaign has identified more than 130 tests and procedures that are common across various specialties, but which doctors say are done too often. For example, too many tests increase the chance of false positives, which then lead to unnecessary biopsies and treatments. And unnecessarily prescribing anti-biotics to patients has contributed to the problem of anti-biotic resistance.

Not only are these practices wasteful of a patient’s time and potentially damaging to their health, they also contribute to financial waste. In fact, the Congressional Budget Office says that up to 30 percent of health care costs are spent on these unnecessary test and procedures, which in turn raises the cost of care for the consumer.

The Consumer Reports website lists these tests and procedures, along with information for the patient on when they are and aren’t helpful. Check this list before your next doctor appointment, so you can discuss these points before undergoing care.

And make sure you get the most out of your appointment by finding out what to expect, the team who’ll treat you, and questions to ask your doctor with our condition-specific Patient Guides