Nine medical specialty groups have released a list of 45 tests and procedures that patients often do not need - even though doctors routinely perform them. They include annual electrocardiograms, CT scans for low back pain, and chest X-rays before surgery.
Ordering these tests when they are not merited wastes money and can harm patients by exposing them to radiation and more unneeded medical procedures, the physician groups said.
Recent estimates suggest that nearly 30 percent of the money Americans spend on health care is wasted, said Dr. Christine Cassel, president of the American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation, a nonprofit organization based in Pennsylvania that is overseeing the project. But she said, “It isn’t just about cost, it’s about putting patients at risk.’’
Doctors sometimes push these tests because they are not up to date with research questioning their effectiveness or because the tests generate revenue. But the physicians involved in the project said patients also play a role by demanding procedures they don’t need.
As a result, the foundation and the nine medical groups have partnered with Consumer Reports and 11 other consumer organizations to disseminate the list to millions of consumers. They hope to start “a long overdue and important conversation between physicians and patients about what care is really needed,’’ Cassel said.
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