The State of Defensive Medicine, Part II: How should physicians handle patients requesting unnecessary tests?

In the second part of our interview series with Dr. Richard Anderson, CEO and Chairman of The Doctor’s Company, we address the question of patient requests for unnecessary or excessive medical testing. While it is important to ensure that every patient receives appropriate diagnostic and therapeutic care, Dr. Anderson points out the potential dangers of unnecessary tests, including allergic reactions, false positives, the possibility of finding abnormalities that may be clinically insignificant, but require further medical investigation when found, and the rare, but real, dangers inherent in certain types of medical tests.

Dr. Anderson notes that too much testing can actually make patients more vulnerable, saying “…there is virtually nothing that we can do that has zero risks.” Whether the risk is intrinsic to the test itself or it leads to problems like over-treatment, physicians must walk a fine line between making sure that patients receive all appropriate care, while discouraging inappropriate or unnecessary testing and treatment. Dr. Anderson also notes the costs to society, the healthcare system, and individual patients due to excessive testing, including the financial burden and the amount of patient and physician time lost due to unnecessary treatment. All of these factors make unnecessary tests a burden on doctors, patients and the healthcare system.See below to watch Part II of the interview. For the full interview, click here.

 

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