Wasteful Procedures Docs Do According to Docs

It is wonderful when I discover those physicians that realize that in the long run it is best to do the appropriate procedures for their patients and not do things just to make money, or because that’s what they learned decades ago or they’re just trying to cover their legal butts.  

This is by Sharon Begley of Newsweek:

When the White House and Congress were struggling last year to keep the cost of health-care reform from exploding, they got most of the industry to ante up. Pharma agreed to give up $80 billion in revenue over the next decade, hospitals kicked in $155 billion in foregone Medicare and Medicaid payments, and medical-device makers grudgingly agreed to a $20 billion tax. But one big player refused to put any money on the table: doctors. The American Medical Association pledged to support health-care reform only if its members’ incomes didn’t take a hit.

That doctors demanded protection for their wallets strikes Howard Brody, a family physician at the University of Texas Medical Branch, as “ethically questionable,” and not only because he thinks doctors have a moral obligation to help get the nation’s health-care bill under control. The bigger problem is that “doctors rip off the system with inappropriate care,” says Brody. 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—routine CT scans in the ER, antibiotics for colds, Pap tests for women who do not have a cervix, and …

What comes after the ellipsis is the question of the hour. Brody recently proposed, in The New England Journal of Medicine, that every medical specialty identify five procedures—diagnostic or therapeutic—that are done a lot and cost a lot but provide no benefits to some or all of the patients who receive them. Five is just a suggestion, high enough to be meaningful but low enough to exclude procedures in which the science is still open to debate, such as annual mammograms for women under 50. “I’m pretty convinced that each specialty could come up with 15 or 20, but in calling for five I think we can find uncontroversial ones,” says Brody. It’s not just about saving money, either. Any time a doctor performs a procedure, there is the risk of medical error and side effects, such as an elevated risk of cancer from CT scans. Unnecessary care kills 30,000 Americans every year, estimates Dr. Elliott Fisher of Dartmouth Medical School—and that figure includes only Medicare patients.

please read the rest via This won’t hurt a bit/ Sharon Begley at Newsweek

for another article on the same subject which adds information go to HealthBeatBlog

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