Thursday, April 5, 2012

Health:  Doctor Panels Recommend Fewer Tests for Patients

In a move likely to alter treatment standards in hospitals and doctors' offices nationwide, a group of nine medical specialty boards plans to recommend on Wednesday that doctors perform 45 common tests and procedures less often, and to urge patients to question these services if they are offered. Eight other specialty boards are preparing to follow suit with additional lists of procedures their members should perform far less often.
The specialty groups are announcing the educational initiative called Choosing Wisely, directed at both patients and physicians, under the auspices of the American Board of Internal Medicine and in partnership with Consumer Reports.
Some experts estimate that up to one-third of the $2 trillion of annual health care costs in the United States each year is spent on unnecessary hospitalizations and tests, unproven treatments, ineffective new drugs and medical devices, and futile care at the end of life.

Some of the tests being discouraged — like CT scans for someone who fainted but has no other neurological problems — are largely motivated by concerns over a malpractice lawsuits, experts said. Clear, evidence-based guidelines like the ones to be issued Wednesday will go far both to reassure physicians and to shield them from litigation.

For more, see Doctor Panels Recommend Fewer Tests for Patients by Roni Caryn Rabin, April 4, 2012 at NYTimes.com.

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