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Are unnecessary tests hurting patients?

All patients deserve the highest quality care and treatment from their doctors, but they also deserve consideration when it comes to the high cost and potential risks of tests and screenings. Are some doctors ordering unnecessary tests for their patients?

Unnecessary tests and screenings could be costing patients in Queens and beyond a huge amount of money. It could also be causing further complications. Certain tests and screenings are the center of recent debates to determine when and if certain tests should be ordered.

One campaign by the American Board of Internal Medicine, the American Academy of Family Physicians and Consumer Reports is aimed at finding ways to reduce patient spending by having doctors test patients only when evidence suggests something may be wrong. The degree of harm incurred by the procedures is also taken into consideration.

Doctors identified certain procedures that highlight the problem with routinely ordered tests. One example is annual electrocardiograms or cardiac screening for low-risk patients. Doctors say that detection of coronary artery disease in low-risk patients does not provide any health benefits, and the harm from the test may outweigh the benefits. If there is a false positive result, patients may endure overly invasive procedures, misdiagnosis and over-treatment.

Doctors and other medical professionals should provide patients with proper care and treatment, but errors still occur. Some of these errors may even stem from unnecessary tests and procedures. As with all medical malpractice cases, it is important to fully investigate the tests and screenings a patient underwent to determine whether there was a deviation from the standard of care.

Source: Fox News, "Are annual physicals helping or hurting you?," Dr. David B. Samadi, July 5, 2012

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