45 Nearly Useless Medical Tests
Believe it or not, common sense is making a bit of a comeback in conventional medicine.
In a program called "Choosing Wisely," nine medical societies have listed the 5 most unnecessary tests in each of their specialties, for a grand total of 45 routinely ordered tests that are useless in all but the most serious cases. (As we've discussed recently, sometimes those tests aren't only useless — they're downright deadly. Case in point: routine PSA testing for prostate cancer, which research shows actually leads to more suffering and deaths from overtreatment of slow-growing cancers.)
The American College of Physicians (with 132,000 members) have partnered with Consumer Reports to jointly participate in the Choosing Wisely initiative, while simultaneously developing their own, similar educational program called "High Value Care."
Of course, not everybody is happy to embrace medical common sense. As soon as the medical societies started publishing their lists of unnecessary medical tests, groups with a financial interest in the tests — along with their corporate buddies in the media — started crying "medical rationing!"
It's difficult to have a discussion about the fact that our medical care system is driving us into national bankruptcy when some in the health industry appeal to mob hysteria with this type of sloganeering? We can't! So it's up to YOU to be an informed consumer of medical care. That means recognizing the difference between common sense, where you get only the medical care that that is best for you, vs. testing that gets popular, even among well meaning physicians, because it is profitable rather than helpful. I encourage you to look at all the unnecessary tests Choosing Wisely identified. You can see them at the Choosing Wisely website.
You'll find a lot of good recommendations there: Don't do medical imaging for an uncomplicated headache. Avoid routine, pre-op chest x-rays. And many more. I don't necessarily agree with every recommendation, of course. But they're definitely a step in the right direction, and a number of these suggestions reflect what I've been saying for years (sometimes decades).
Love & blessings,