Physicians say up to 30% of medical care is unnecessary

Survey respondents specifically thought that 22% of medication prescriptions, 25% of medical tests, 11% of procedures, and 21% of medical care overall are not needed.
By Jeremy Morrow | Sep 11, 2017
U.S. doctors carry out many unneeded tests and treatments, reports a new study published Sept. 6 in PLOS ONE. The survey questioned more than 2,000 physicians across the United States and found that most of them think that 15% to 30% of medical care is unnecessary.
Survey respondents specifically thought that 22% of medication prescriptions, 25% of medical tests, 11% of procedures, and 21% of medical care overall are not needed. Fear of malpractice lawsuits is a major driving factor behind this, according to most respondentsdoctors order interventions and tests just to ensure that they won't be held liable if the patients take a turn for the worse.
Inadequate access to patients' medical records may also lead to some overtreatments, according to 39% of responders. But another 59% suggested that doctors order needless treatments because the patients demand them, and 17% said that some doctors order them just to earn more profits.
"Most doctors do the right thing and always try to, however, today 'too much medical care' has become an endemic problem in some areas of medicine. A new physician-led focus on appropriateness is a promising homegrown strategy to address the problem," said Martin Makary, a Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine professor and the study's senior author, in a university news release.
The respondents hope that physician training and system innovations might cut out the waste. Educating doctors on how to judge the appropriateness of specific treatments would help, according to 55%; while 52% and 51.5%, respectively, said that better access to health records and introducing more evidence-based practice guidelines would make a difference.

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