Unnecessary tests = unnecessary expense
This is a follow up to my last post about the dangers of too much medical care.
One of the biggest doors leading to an overabundance of healthcare and healthcare costs is the annual exam and all the “routine” lab work that is ordered almost without thought.
Doctors’ offices strive to be efficient. They have a lot of patients to see every day, after all.
One way they streamline their practices is to set up routine or “standing” orders for common lab tests, such as an electrocardiogram (EKG), complete blood count (CBC), urinalysis (UA), … Continue reading
Too much testing = too much medicine
I just ran across an old doctor joke: What is a well person? Someone who hasn’t yet been thoroughly examined.
It’s not funny, of course, if you’re the patient and have suffered the harms—and the expense—of too much medical care.
In 2010, my husband was the victim of too much medical care. Because of complications and a string of medical errors he almost died. His care cost our insurance company over $100,000 and we were out of pocket for our $10,000 deductible.
Now he has no thyroid and has to take medication every … Continue reading
The debate over screening ECGs
When my son was a teenager, he participated in several school sports, including track and field.
And it always freaked me out when I heard a news report about a young teen athlete suddenly dying on a track or a basketball court.
The stories were similar: young, seemingly healthy teenagers died because no one knew they had a problem with their hearts.
Every time I wondered if I should immediately take my son to his pediatrician and demand an (electrocardiogram) ECG to make sure his heart was OK.
I had to remind myself that these … Continue reading
Colon cancer on the rise in young adults
I recently read a disturbing report that colon cancer is on the rise in Millenials and GenXers.
People born in 1990 now have double the risk of colon cancer and four times the risk of rectal cancer, compared with those born around 1950 when the risk was lowest, the researchers said.
The overall risk is still very low for that age group, but the study certainly suggests that lifestyle factors—obesity, diets high in processed foods, sedentary habits—could be a factor.
March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month!
A healthy diet and exercise are … Continue reading
More tests = more money
Anyone who has read my blog over the years knows this is a subject I come back to again and again: the overuse of screening and diagnostic tests.
It’s a problem in our healthcare system for a couple of reasons.
First, the majority of healthcare providers are paid based on volume. In other words, the more patients they see, the more tests they run, the more surgeries they perform, then the more they get paid. It doesn’t matter if the outcome is poor, because they still get paid. In fact, they make even more money … Continue reading
Don’t get health advice from commercials!
While nursing my cold last weekend, I was watching TV and one prescription drug commercial caught my eye. (One of oh so many. FTC—please make these go away!)
Actually, the ad didn’t mention any drug by name, but it was sponsored by Gilead Sciences, the makers of the new hepatitis C drug, Harvoni.
The commercial was aimed at baby boomers, who were advised to get tested for the hepatitis C virus (HCV).
One in 30 baby boomers could have HCV and not know it, the voice over said, “…because Hep C can hide … Continue reading
Happy New (Calendar) Year!
It’s the start of a new year or, in health insurance lingo, the start of a new calendar year deductible. I’m reposting this from last January, because this month is the best time to start trying to schedule that annual exam or annual wellness visit (it could take weeks, after all, to get an appointment!).
I usually advise people to get any screening tests or annual exams done early in the year, just in case an abnormality is found and more testing/treatment is necessary.
Especially with the current trend towards enormous deductibles (up to $14,300 for … Continue reading
I’m going with an overdiagnosis theme this week.
Here’s the latest healthcare parody video from pharmacy professor James McCormack, as he continues his much-appreciated effort to raise awareness of overscreening, overdiagnosis, and overtreatment in this country.
As usual, this video is full of supporting statistics and excerpts from leading healthcare journals, so take time to pause the video and really understand the information being shared.
As I said in a previous post, overdiagnosis and the resulting unnecessary treatments cost hundreds of billions of dollars every year.
Equally bad, if not worse, I think, is … Continue reading
I’m all about high-value, evidence-based healthcare.
I’ve written a lot of posts about the problems, including high costs, of overscreening and overtreating. (We spend hundreds of billions of dollars every year on unnecessary healthcare!)
So I love this video by Andrew Lazris, MD, and Erik Rifkin, PhD. They use the visual of 1000 women sitting in a theater to illustrate why screening mammograms are not the life savers many women think they are.
A picture (or video) is worth a thousand words, isn’t it?
I understand Lazris and Rifkin want to create more videos to … Continue reading
I’ve posted before about the limitations of Life Line Screening.
The screening tests they offer in their basic “wellness” package are either not recommended at all because they aren’t effective screening tools (carotid ultrasound), or are not recommended for the general public (abdominal aortic aneurysm ultrasound). Please read my previous post for more information on that: Don’t reach for Life Line Screenings
Screening tests are best discussed with your primary care physician. He or she will help you know which tests are right for you—based on your age, health history and family history—as well as how often they … Continue reading