A new poll just released should bring a smile to a few faces, as well as perhaps save some medical costs. Primary care physicians that were surveyed described how they are practicing more aggressively than they would like, while nearly half of them estimated that their patients are receiving too much medical care.
Whether it be ordering more tests or prescribing drugs or even diagnosing patients with diseases although they never experienced any symptoms, doctors seem to believe that too much is a worse problem than not enough, with only 6 percent thinking that patients were getting too little care.
The study was published by Archives of Internal Medicine, online September 26, 2011 and involved Dr. Lisa Schwartz and Dr. Steven Woloshin, two of the three authors of a book called "Overdiagnosed: Making People Sick in the Pursuit of Health." The book is backed up by more than words. According to the Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) the US spent $7,960 per capita on healthcare in 2009, more than $2500 above Norway the number two country on their list for healthcare spending.
Dr. Brenda Sirovich of the VA Medical Center in White River Junction, Vermont, who worked on the survey confirmed :
"Physicians at the frontline of medical care are telling us that their patients are getting too much care .... And we don't think we are just talking about the 627 physicians that we surveyed."In one example that would be amusing if it didn't involve physical suffering : A man who slipped on an icy driveway had an array of tests for his terrible back pain but all were fruitless until it was realized that he'd previously had a morphine pump installed for pain relief. The fall had obviously caused a problem with it.
Too many tests can also lead to diagnosing ailments, that would not have caused any real discomfort, such as a slow developing prostate cancer or slightly high blood pressure, giving doctors and hospitals extra work and causing patient concern where none is necessary.
The main reasons doctors gave for the problem of over treatment related to :
- Fear of malpractice lawsuits
- Performance measures
- Too little time to just listen to patients
Forty percent of physicians also believed that other doctors would order fewer tests if it didn't provide extra income, but amusingly only three percent thought that financial considerations influenced their own practice.
Dr. Sirovich said:
"I'm not saying that physicians do tests in order to make money ... there is a potential to be a real cynic here ... but I think that the reimbursement model for most healthcare encourages utilization in a variety of ways."With the new Obamacare coming into place, now is certainly a good moment to be looking into the ways in which money can be saved and she concluded :
"It's a time for us to reflect about what incentives we have built into our healthcare system, and what directions they are taking us in."
Rupert Shepherd for Medical News Today.