When you go to a medical facility, you assume the physician in charge has your best interests at heart. Doctors owe patients a reasonable standard of care. Unfortunately, they sometimes call for unnecessary medical tests, and some of them can harm patients. Physicians may fear legal action or receive rewards for recommending tests and procedures.
Below are some of the most unnecessary tests or treatments that doctors recommend or order:
- An electroencephalogram for a headache – Physicians typically order EEGs for seizure patients and are rarely required for headache disorders.
- An imaging scan for lower back pain – Pain often subsides without testing, and doctors are more likely to recommend surgery to those who are tested. Imaging scans make sense if you suspect nerve damage or another underlying condition, but may not be helpful for many back pain sufferers.
- Elective C-sections – Unless they are medically necessary, doctors should neer recommend or order cesarean deliveries.
- Electrocardiograms for low-risk individuals – Unless you have a history of heart problems or you’re experiencing symptoms, an EKG isn’t part of a routine annual screening.
- Prostate-specific antigen-based screening – Medicare spends a fortune on PSA tests each year. While in the past tests were recommended yearly, physicians are not encouraged to provide them as routine screening now.
- Heart surgeries – Many patients fail to ask questions about a doctor’s definition of success. If a bypass surgery is going to reduce your risk of stroke by only 1% per year, is serious surgery really worth the outcome? Always consider the success rate, the definition of success, and the patient’s health/age before agreeing to a major operation or treatment.
- Antibiotics for sinusitis – Many doctors prescribe a round of antibiotics at the first sign of mucus in the nasal passages. However, antibiotics have side effects; they weaken gut bacteria and can make individuals more resistant to antibiotic treatment in the future. Take antibiotics only for symptoms that last more than two weeks or if you are suffering from a high fever and other strong indicators of bacteria.
- Bone density scans in low-risk individuals – Women under 65 who are at low risk for osteoporosis don’t need routine scans. Risk factors include age, ethnicity (Asians and Caucasians are at highest risk), history of broken bones, and family history.
- Comprehensive panels in healthy adults – Unless you have a reason to believe your vitamin, mineral, and other levels are off, you may not need routine screening. Cholesterol tests are one of the few tests that may be beneficial in seemingly healthy adults.
- Preventive surgeries or surgeries for some small cancers – For many, watching cancer and living with small cancer cells is a better choice, with fewer complications.
- Tests for pulmonary embolism – Unless there is a good chance that you have an embolism, there is no reason to have this test.
- Annual colonoscopies or colorectal cancer screening – You’re good for 10 years after a negative good-quality colonoscopy.
- Cancer screening in patients on dialysis – If a patient has a limited life expectancy, there may not be a reason to perform a screening unless there are clear signs of cancer.
- Red blood cell-stimulating drugs in kidney disease patients – If a patient’s hemoglobin numbers are 10 g/dL or more, there is no reason for this treatment.
- Immunoglobulin G (IgG) tests and immunoglobulin E (IgE) tests for allergy screening – According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, these are unproven diagnostic tests.
If you suspect you have undergone unnecessary tests and they caused you harm, contact a West Virginia medical malpractice lawyer at Tiano O’Dell, PLLC today for a free consultation.