Medical organizations have released a new list of tests and procedures that are routinely performed by doctors even though patients often don’t need them. I was surprised to spot at least one test on the roster that I’ve had -- apparently unnecessarily -- in the past year.
I respect my primary care providers and consider myself fairly clear-eyed about medicine. So the fact that my caregiver ordered a blood test for Vitamin D deficiency -- even though I’m not at risk -- during a recent physical shows that we can all learn something from these well-researched lists. I certainly never thought to question the test, which seemed simple enough since I was having blood drawn anyway.
But the American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation, a nonprofit organization that is overseeing the “Choosing Wisely’’ campaign, said the cost of unneeded tests adds up, and can harm patients by exposing them to radiation and more unnecessary medical procedures.
Seventeen leading medical specialty societies identified 90 specific tests and procedures in this recent round, in addition to 45 others flagged last year.
Vitamin D testing is generally unnecessary, according to the American Society for Clinical Pathology, because over-the-counter vitamin D supplements and summer sun exposure are sufficient for most otherwise healthy people. Laboratory testing is appropriate in higher risk patients -- those who are obese or have chronic kidney disease, for example -- when results will be used to decide whether to order more aggressive therapy.
You have reached the limit of 5 free articles in a month
Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.
- High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
- Convenient access across all of your devices
- Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
- Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
- Less than 25¢ a week