Study Shows that Medical Over Treatment is Costly and Harms Patients

A new study by the Institute of Medicine has found that over treatment is costing the nation’s health care system $210 billion each year. More important, too many treatments — x-rays, CAT scans, blood checks and procedures — are harming patients.

“What people are not realizing is that sometimes the test poses harm,” said Shannon Brownlee, acting director of the health policy program at the New America Foundation and the author of “Overtreated: Why Too Much Medicine Is Making Us Sicker and Poorer.”

In her book, Brownlee writes that the nation’s medical system delivers an enormous amount of care that does nothing to improve people’s health. Between 20 and 30 cents on every health care dollar we spend goes toward useless treatment and hospitalization, she says.

A story about over treatment was published recently in the New York Times.. The author of the story had asked readers to write in with their stories about over treatment.

Those who told their stories said that when they switched doctors they are required to undergo duplicate blood tests or other tests that their previous doctor had recently ordered. Others told of being referred to specialists who seem to forget the patient’s original problem. Doctors and nurses wrote in about their frustration with a system that encourages over treatment.

One person who wrote in to the paper said his wife was diagnosed with Wegener’s disease, a rare autoimmune disorder. The patient’s primary care doctor referred her to a specialist who ordered blood tests, x-rays, scans and many office visits. The patient and her husband found they were paying up to $30,000 a year in out-of-pocket medical expenses. Eventually the patient’s husband complained to her primary care physician, who recommended that the patient find a new specialist. The new specialist reduced the number of office visits to only a few a year and cut back on testing.

Meanwhile, a leading group of U.S. doctors is trying to reduce excessive medical testing.

The American College of Physicians (ACP), the largest medical specialty group in the nation, is drawng up guidelines to help doctors better identify when patients should screen for specific diseases and when they can be avoided. Many medical centers have also launched their own efforts to build a protocol for patient care in fields such as diabetes or obstetrics.

Kreisman Law Offices has been providing legal services to individuals and families for more than 36 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Glenview, Park Ridge, Park Forest, Forest Park, Hoffman Estates, Schaumburg, Winfield, Riverside, Evergreen Park, Chicago (Jackson Park) and Hickory Hills, Illinois.

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