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Most Common Unnecessary Medical Treatments

Written by Ankin Law Office

Many times patients trust that the medical tests and procedures are medically necessary and safe. But new evidence is coming to light indicating that several common medical tests and treatments that doctors order are unnecessary. In fact, according to recent Consumer Reports data, nearly half of primary-care physicians say that their own patients get too much medical care, and the Congressional Budget Office says that up to 30 percent of health care administered in the U.S. is unnecessary.

As we recently reported, unnecessary medical tests and procedures can result in additional costs and medical risks by exposing patients to radiation and additional unnecessary medical procedures. Last month, several doctors and high level executives at Chicago’s Sacred Heart Hospital were arrested in connection with a massive Medicare fraud scam that involved allegations of unnecessary medical procedures, including unnecessary tracheotomies that exposed patients to additional risks and further delayed the patient’s recovery.

Consumer Reports makes the following recommendations regarding some of the most common unnecessary medical tests and procedures:

  • EKGs and exercise stress tests for heart disease. Both tests are critical if a patient has heart disease or has a high risk of developing heart disease, but for other patients these tests can be inaccurate and may lead to unnecessary follow-up tests and procedures, including CT angiogams and coronary angiography, which can expose a patient to significant additional radiation. An EKG and exercise stress test should be ordered if a patient has chest pain, an irregular heartbeat, or other symptoms of heart disease, as well as for patients with diabetes or other coronary risk factors who are beginning an exercise regime. For other patients, the tests may be unnecessary.
  • CT scans and MRIs for headaches. Brain scans often reveal things that are not dangerous but may trigger unnecessary follow-up tests. Moreover, head CT scans of the head can deliver a radiation dose equal to 15 to 300 chest X-rays. CT scans are often only warranted if a patient has an abnormal neurological exam or a doctor cannot diagnose a medical condition based on a medical exam alone.
  • Bone-density scans for low-risk women. Oftentimes, a bone density scan reveals that a woman has mild bone loss, or osteopenia. Although the risk of fracture with osteopenia is quite low, this diagnosis often leads to treatment with such drugs as alendronate (Fosamax) and ibandronate (Boniva). These drugs pose several risks, including thigh fractures, throat or chest pain, difficulty swallowing, heartburn, and more rarely, bone, eye, joint and muscle pain, bone loss in the jaw, and abnormal heart rhythm. Most women don’t need to get a bone-density scan until age 65, men at age 70. Younger women and men might want to consider the test only if they certain specific risk factors.

If you have received an unnecessary medical test or procedure, you may want to consult with a medical malpractice attorney like the Chicago medical malpractice lawyers at Ankin Law Office, LLC. Contact our office at (312) 600-0000 to schedule your free consultation with one of our knowledgeable Illinois unnecessary medical treatment lawyers.

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