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Obsession With Interventionism by Doctors is a Problem

Harold Mandel's picture
A pathology lab

With so much of our lives these days surrounding health care, as talk of Obamacare hits the front pages of the press daily, there has been a tendency to glorify the medical profession by many people. However, it's not necessarily a good idea to leave your health entirely in the hands of the medical profession without asking questions about what is being done to you and why.


Recent research shows that inappropriate medical testing and intervention is a serious problem which presents patients with a real sense of urgency insofar as wanting their rights protected to ask questions and have more to say about their own health care.

The medical profession is obsessed with interventionism

Dr John Murtagh has commented about the issue of the medical profession being obsessed with interventionism, invasive technology and drug management, in his text, "General Practice". Dr Murtagh points out that patients generally appear to appreciate natural remedies and taking the responsibility for their own management whenever this can be done. It is his professional opinion that physicians have an obligation to their patients to use natural healing whenever this is possible, and that they should be very conservative with investigatory medicine.

The overall landscape of inappropriate medical testing has not been very clear, as reported upon by the journal Plos One. This is a significant area of concern due to the enormous volume of medical activity which surrounds laboratory testing and the direct influence these tests have on clinical decision-making across all disciplines in medicine.

Overutilization and underutilization of labs tests are a problem

Research has shown that both overutilization and underutilization of laboratory testing are widespread problems. More aggressive initiatives to work towards ordering the right tests during initial evaluations and to avoid unnecessary testing has the potential to cut down on errors and associated pain and suffering of patients in the provision of health care, while also cutting costs. The considerations herein are significant due to the fact that testing is highest volume medical activity with about 4-5 billion medical tests being done every year in the United States alone. The primary types of inappropriate testing include overutilization, which means over-ordering tests which are not indicated, while underutilization means tests which are indicated but not ordered.

About 30 percent of all medical tests may not be necessary

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Researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) have found that about 30 percent of all medical tests are probably not necessary, according to a review of this research published by BIDMC. These researchers have also found that there appear to be as many
necessary tests which are not being ordered.

Jeffrey Saffitz, MD, BIDMC Chairman of Pathology, has said this paper explores many of the nuances which surround "exactly how, when and why lab tests are ordered and misordered.”
Dr Saffitz is on target in taking the position that in regard to appropriate lab testing, the pathologist has as much responsibility to work hard to get things right as the doctor who orders the tests.

Senior research author Ramy Arnaout, MD, has commented, “While working with my clinical colleagues around the hospital, I often found myself wondering about the appropriateness or inappropriateness of all of these tests." He and his colleagues therefore decided to explore the errors associated with overall lab test utilization. Dr Arnaout and his associates have highlighted the seriousness of this situation because it directly effects what he refers to as "downstream visits", or the surgeries and the hospital stays. He is deeply concerned not just about overuse and underuse of medical testing, but also about failure to order the right tests.

The problem of unnecessary medical testing has become such a serious problem Consumer Reports has moved into the issue. Consumers are very concerned about doctors ordering tests and recommending drugs or procedures which don't have to be ordered. These concerned consumers are even more worried about considerations that it appears these doctors are often ordering extra tests knowing all along that they should not be doing so.

As a matter of fact about 50 percent of all primary-care physicians admit their own patients are getting too much medical care. This finding was published in a 2011 survey by researchers at Dartmouth College. Even the Congressional Budget Office has jumped into the controversy about this costly matter saying that about 30 percent of the health care in the U.S. is simply not necessary. Such unneeded health care can clearly be very dangerous for both your health and your finances. Risky and expensive tests which should not have been ordered can lead to more risky and expensive tests.

I personally have shared similar feelings as Arnaout, MD regarding concerns about the appropriateness or inappropriateness of medical tests. I have observed that unnecessary medical intervention becomes a particularly painful issue in dealing with the pseudoscience of psychiatry, which leads to false labels, dangerous drug and hospital interventions and stigmatization which ruins people's careers and lives, daily.

To make matters worse careless, inconsiderate, cruel and indifferent judges have been giving psychiatrists the legal authority to push their interventions on patients across the United States. Patients generally deserve the right to make their own decisions regarding their general and mental health care, and having arrogant judges join forces with arrogant and incompetent psychiatrists and other doctors to force unwanted and unnecessary medical interventions on them only makes things a lot worse.

In the other disciplines in medicine, although medical testing and intervention has the potential to have a great deal more to offer for health care, this only turns out to be so if the testing is done conservatively and properly. Too much testing and too little testing, when in fact tests may be worthwhile, is costly in terms of potential human suffering and in economic terms. Because tests play such a vital role in medicine, initiatives to improve considerations of why, how and when testing is done has the potential to dramatically improve patient care.