Medical Tests - What You Should Know

What are the dangers of medical tests? - No medical test is without risk, be it some devastating side effect, such as an allergic reaction, an infection, or excruciating anxiety wondering how long you have to live based on a false-test death sentence.

Why are so many medical tests performed in the United States? - So many tests are performed in the U.S. because doctors fear being sued. Further, we operate on a fee-for-service system. When compared to British physicians, U.S. doctors order 40 times more tests than their London colleagues.

Because hospitals and medical centers buy expensive equipment for stress tests, X-rays, CAT scans, MRIs, etc., they must perform many tests to pay for that equipment. There is pressure on doctors to order more tests.

Medical tests are the largest single health cost item and account for the largest portion of a hospital bill. Medical tests provide the greatest source of income for hospitals, which is why many of them demand that every patient undergo a battery of tests upon admission, even though they may have been performed the day before in a doctor’s office or a laboratory.

Younger physicians are more apt to prescribe medical tests, substituting the results for the observations of experience. It used to be that doctors questioned and examined their patient far more carefully and applied testing only to confirm their suspicions. Today, the tests come first and results, not your complaints, tend to guide therapy.

Up to 80% of physicians in the U.S. practice defensive medicine, ordering unnecessary tests to protect themselves from possible law suits. If your physician offers you an arbitration agreement, it makes sense to participate in this process. You will probably get better, more open, and more candid clinical discussions instead of a battery of defensive-medicine tests.

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