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How Can You Avoid Unnecessary Medical Tests? [AUDIO]

Nearly 30 percent of the health care delivered in the United States is duplicative or unnecessary.

Flickr User Acme

That’s according to experts who say certain tests, procedures, doctor visits, hospital stays and other services have little benefit to your health. Now a coalition of about 375,000 doctors nationwide is looking to put an end to unnecessary medical tests. As a patient, how can you avoid unnecessary medical testing and treatment?

“Patients shouldn’t hesitate to ask questions and learn more if there is a suggestion that they get tested more or get treated more,” said Dr. John Santa, Director of Consumer Reports Health Rating Center. “Over-testing and over-treating can lead to more risks and can actually cause more harm than good.”

Physician organizations have developed the Choosing Wisely program to help their members engage with patients in conversations about appropriate care. The goal of the program is to promote these conversations about utilizing the more appropriate tests and treatments while avoiding care that may be more harmful than beneficial.

“We’ve got to get patients and doctors talking about this. These are not issues that insurance companies and government are going to be able to solve well,” said Santa. “We’ve got to have a relationship with a doctor we trust, who we feel confident is giving us the right amount of care. That’s what it comes down to. We need to be comfortable talking and discussing these issues and starting a dialogue about our health.”

“This is not going to happen overnight. This is a multi-year effort and will change some of the thinking surrounding health care in this country,” said Santa. “Many patients believe that preventative measures are the best way to go. We now have proof that certain imaging and screening tests are not beneficial to people who are in good health.”

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