Healthy Living: Medical testing
Procedures like CAT scans, MRIs, and X-rays can help doctors save your life, but physician groups across the country say they're overused. YNN’s Casey Bortnick reports.
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"The stethoscope of 30, 40, 50 years ago has been replaced by lab tests, imaging tests," said Dr. Hans Blickman, Department of Imaging Sciences.
These procedures can help doctors save your life, but physician groups across the country say they're overused.
"Not only is it expensive, it's not always necessary," said Dr. Blickman.
Dr. Hans Blickman of University of Rochester Medical Center says CT scans have exploded in the last ten years. These tests include small doses of radiation. Blickman says too much exposure can be harmful.
"Use the Alara principle which is as low as reasonably achievable," said Dr. Blickman.
"You only do a test if you know what to do with the results,” said Dr. Jeffrey Goldstein, Rochester General Hospital.
Dr. Jeffrey Goldstein is a board certified gastroenterologist. He says some doctors are ordering more tests because they're afraid they'll get sued if they don't.
"We all don't want to miss anything and that's the key thing. And unfortunately today we're practicing more defensive medicine…number one for the patient's sake and number two medical legally," said Dr. Goldstein.
Doctors say this culture of litigation is a major problem.
"We do too many tests and people always point to the cases where a test was not done as proof or a reason why we should have done the test," said Dr. Blickman.
To help avoid unnecessary tests and keep health care costs down the new "Choose Wisely” campaign is encouraging patients ask their doctors if a test is really necessary.
"They shouldn't be afraid to ask that question," said Dr. Goldstein. "So I think the idea is an informed consent...that the patient understands what they are going to go through, what the potential results could be, and then have them make the decision with us."
National statistics show as many as 45 medical tests are being over used.
"The cost of doing more tests, and now I'm going to expand it to all testing is huge. It is a very big chunk of why healthcare is so expensive," said Dr. Blickman.
Doctors say it's a problem we can't afford to ignore.
"It is un sustainable on a financial front," said Dr. Blickman.