January 22, 2019
Too Much Medical Care?

Too Much Medical Care?

by Berkeley Wellness  

Optimal health care involves not only getting the tests, drugs and procedures you need, but also avoiding those you don’t need and/or are likely to be harmful. It’s estimated that up to one-third of all medical care is unnecessary, ineffective, and/or unlikely to improve people’s health—and thus poses unnecessary risks and wastes health-care dollars.

That’s why major medical specialty groups (such as the American College of Physicians and those for cardiology, gastroenterology, oncology and radiology) are taking part in a campaign called Choosing Wisely. Each group has come up with “Five Things Physicians and Patients Should Question.” Here’s a sampling:

  • Imaging tests (CT or MRI scans) shouldn’t be used routinely for back pain or headaches.
  • Electrocardiograms (EKGs) and other cardiac screening tests shouldn’t be done as part of a routine physical exam for people without symptoms or elevated risk.
  • Antibiotics shouldn’t be prescribed for most cases of acute sinusitis, which is usually a viral infection that will resolve without treatment within two weeks.
  • Exercise stress testing shouldn’t be done except in people who are at elevated risk for heart disease or have symptoms of it.
  • Colonoscopies shouldn’t be done more than once every 10 years unless patients have had abnormal results or are otherwise at elevated risk for colorectal cancer.
  • Aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen or other NSAIDs shouldn’t be taken regularly by people with uncontrolled hypertension, heart failure or chronic kidney disease. These drugs can raise blood pressure, make antihypertensive drugs less effective, cause fluid retention and worsen kidney function.
  • People with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) should take the lowest effective dose of drugs for the shortest time possible. That includes proton pump inhibitors (such as Nexium and Prilosec) and H2 antagonists (such as Zantac).