Anyone who has ever watched a late night infomercial knows there are many products being sold that people really don’t need. It might be surprising to learn, however, that many of the tests and prescriptions ordered by medical doctors are just as unnecessary.
Doctors order tests and prescription medication all the time, and according to an article in the “Archives of Internal Medicine,” a little over 75 percent of doctors admitted to “treating patients more aggressively” because they are afraid of being sued.
Aggressive treatment is just the tip of the iceberg. Almost half of the doctors-42 percent-who want to look as if they’re doing a good job and are afraid of medical malpractice cases, admit that they provide “additional, unnecessary, financially-burdensome care.”
In one year, over $6.5 billion dollars was spent on tests and medications that were not necessary, according to researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. The majority of this money was spent on high-priced name brand drugs prescribed by doctors in cases where lower priced generic medications could have been ordered.
High health care costs are a problem for many patients in this country, but cutting back on health care is frowned upon because of the fear that a doctor may misdiagnose a patient or miss something he shouldn’t. Additionally, as long as health care is treated like a business, there will always be those more concerned with the bottom line and profit margins. For example, of the doctors questioned, 62 percent admitted that if specialists weren’t making money off of the additional test and treatments doctors ordered, the number of diagnostic tests performed would be reduced.
These factors mean there will always be doctors who try to sell more treatments, tests, and services than the patient really needs. While patients do not want to delay necessary medical treatment or forgo needed medication, in many cases, patients may profit by getting a second opinion.