Could New Initiative Identifying Unnecessary Medical Tests Lead to Misdiagnoses?
At some point in our lives we have all been told to “choose wisely.” Whether it was when selecting the school to attend, the job to accept or our lifelong partner, hearing the term often led us to seriously consider all the options. Now, doctors are being asked to choose wisely before prescribing medical tests for patients.
The American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) Foundation has developed Choosing Wisely, an initiative aimed at promoting conversations between physicians and patients when determining the appropriate care. Specifically, Choosing Wisely is “focused on encouraging physicians, patients and other health care stakeholders to think and talk about medical tests and procedures that may be unnecessary, and in some instances can cause harm.”
The initiative was partially spurred on by statistics from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that note national health care expenditures are projected to increase from 17.3 percent of the nation’s GDP in 2011 to 19.3 percent in 2019. Some believe many of these costs are attributable to overused or misused tests and procedures that provide little benefit—and potential harm—at unnecessary cost.
The Choosing Wisely campaign was just released this month and is already being promoted as a big step in improving medical care by a large number of medical professionals and publications. CNN and JAMA have both reported that as more physicians follow the initiative, medical care costs can be held down and personalized patient care will be more common.
Nine medical specialty societies representing 374,000 U.S. physicians developed lists of “Five Things Physicians and Patients Should Question” for the campaign. These lists serve as guidelines towards driving physician and patient conversations to improve care and eliminate unnecessary tests and procedures. All other specialties have been asked to develop similar guidelines pertinent to the field.
However, not everyone agrees the campaign will help U.S. medical care. In fact, some that oppose the initiative believe it will lead to misdiagnoses and serious illness, or even death, to some patients. In The Moderate Voice, for example, author Scott Kirwin suggests by proposing a list of unnecessary tests insurance companies will begin to refuse payment for them leaving patients and doctors having to justify what could be lifesaving procedures.
Kirwin also cites a New York Times article that says there is fear among some patients and doctors that the recommendations will be applied too broadly leading doctors to miss an opportunity for an accurate diagnosis. The newspaper quotes Dr. Eric Topol, chief academic officer of Scripps Health who says, “These [lists of unnecessary tests] all sound reasonable, but don’t forget that every person you’re looking after is unique…This kind of one-size-fits-all approach can be a real detriment to good care.”
Our Binghamton medical malpractice lawyers believe doctors should have the ability to order any tests they deem appropriate for the care and diagnosis of their patients. We also believe that insurance companies should not refuse payment for a justified test. If you were denied a test that you believe led to a misdiagnosis, you should contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney – you may be eligible for compensation.
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