Medical Groups Warn About Unnecessary Tests

From the WebMD Archives

Dozens of types of tests and treatments are too often recommended by doctors when patients don't need them, according to a warning issued Thursday by a coalition of leading medical groups in the United States.

This unnecessary care wastes time and money and sometimes causes harm to patients, according to the organizations that represent more than 350,000 doctors, the Associated Press reported.

The Choosing Wisely Coalition said patients need to ask their doctors, "Do I really need that?". The coalition was formed by the American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation.

Too many people "think that more is better, that more treatment, more testing somehow results in better health care," Dr. Glen Stream, former president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, told the AP. "That really is not true."

The academy contributed to this year's list of 90 examples of potentially needless care, which adds to 45 examples included on last year's list. Among the newly-added warnings:

  • Don't screen for a clogged neck artery in healthy people with no stroke signs. It could lead to risky surgery for a blockage that would cause no harm.
  • Don't try feeding tubes in people with advanced dementia. Helping them eat is a better approach.
  • Don't routinely give heartburn medicine to infants with reflux. This treatment hasn't been proven effective in babies and could cause side effects.
  • Don't prescribe opioid painkillers for migraines except as a last resort. Opioids can carry the risk of addiction and can actually worsen migraines. Instead, use more migraine-specific drugs.
  • Don't induce labor if a pregnant woman misses her due date and both mother and baby are doing fine.
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