American Abuse of Medical Care

One of the many abuses that have developed in the American medical care system is the excessive amount of medical care given to patients.  At first, that may sound strange since most of us are dissatisfied with the short amount of time and attention we’re usually given when we visit the doctor.  We are speaking here, however, of unnecessary tests, treatments and prescriptions ordered by American health care providers. 

A survey conducted with over 2,000 physicians in various specialties revealed that most believed 15% to 30% of medical care is not needed, including 22 percent of prescription medications, 25 percent of medical tests, 11 percent of procedures and 21 percent of overall medical care.

Study senior author, Dr. Martin Makary, professor of surgery and health policy at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine was quoted as saying, "Unnecessary medical care is a leading driver of the higher health insurance premiums affecting every American."  

According to the National Academy of Medicine, unneeded medical care is responsible for the largest portion of wasted health care resources and costs in the United States and leads to about $210 billion in extra spending each year.

The principal reasons for this medical care abuse of resources?  Survey findings reported 85% of physician participants stated fear of malpractice lawsuits as their primary reason.  Second on the list was patient demand at 59%, third, hard-to-access medical records at 38% and fourth, 17% felt physician profit was a driving factor.

The solution?  55% of survey respondents felt reduction of unneeded care could include training medical residents on appropriateness criteria for care, 52% felt easy access to health records would help and 51.5% felt more evidence-based practice guidelines are needed.

"Most doctors do the right thing and always try to, however, today 'too much medical care' has become an endemic problem in some areas of medicine. A new physician-led focus on appropriateness is a promising homegrown strategy to address the problem," Dr. Makary stated in a university news release.

The other side of the solution rests with consumers.  If consumers are self-pay patients with the ability to go to any physician, hospital or diagnostic center they choose, and are offered lower rates because payment would be directly between physician and patient, physicians nor patients would have to deal with the cumbersome, not to mention, expensive bureaucracy that goes with health insurance and government involvement.  What’s more, each could take back control; physicians in giving appropriate care and patients in receiving it.