Report: Doctors overuse tests with potential risks - KMSP-TV

Report: Doctors overuse tests with potential risks

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When it comes to health, many people feel like more is always better. If you can test for it, do it -- but a new report is calling doctors to the carpet for overusing tests that may do more harm than good.

Many patients believe the more medical problems that can be caught earlier, the easier recovery will be. In fact, many fight for additional tests or re-tests -- but experts say that's often not necessary.

A project called Choosing Wisely, by the American Board of Internal Medicine, has named 90 tests and treatments on top of last year's 45 that doctors overdo as a result of that "more is better" philosophy.

"I think it's easy sometimes to take a good thing and do it too often," said Dr. Steve Bergeson, medical director for care improvement at Allina Clinics.

Bergeson's was not involved with the report, but he told FOX 9 News he agrees with it because many tests -- such as X-rays, CT scans and MRIs -- have risky side effects.

"The problem with doing a CT on every child is: It makes sense at some level, because if it was my child, I want to make sure they're OK tonight -- but the problem is that's X-ray radiation exposure and that builds up over a lifetime," he explained.

Another concern is that the overused tests and treatments are expensive, which drives up healthcare costs.

While some have wondered whether doctors are doing so many tests to avoid lawsuits, Bergeson said he believes that may play a small role, but there is a different motivating factor for most.

"I think some of it is really driven by a genuine effort to try to do what's best for the patient," he said. "What we're learning is: Maybe some of those things are actually going to harm people in the long run."

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