Of course you should get necessary medical care. Preventative care is essential to maintaining a healthy life, and to prevent serious illness down the road.
But, and there always is a but, patients need to understand that recommended tests and procedures often carry risks. I frequently evaluate cases and represent patients that suffered horrible consequences from what was called a routine test.
Now the American Board of Internal Medicine has set up a site to help you navigate the complicated area of tests and procedures. The site, called Choosing Wisely, provides information on testing and treatment for common problems. The site covers many subjects, but some of the main ones include: tests for babies in hospitals, back pain, fertility, antibiotics for patients with catheters, clogged neck arteries, genetic testing, cancer, respiratory illness, and blood tests.
The discussion on clogged neck arteries was near and dear to my heart, as I recently successfully represented a lovely woman who suffered a debilitating stroke after undergoing a very complicated and likely unnecessary surgery to unclog arteries in her neck. The site discussed that having a neck ultrasound is often unnecessary, and the tests are not very accurate, as “Neither of these tests is accurate. And both lead to many false-positive results. A false-positive result says you have the condition when you actually don't.” That was the case in my client's case, and had she been provided this type of unbiased information, she may have been able to avoid the devastating consequences of this surgery.
The site has all sorts of simple language discussions on many areas of basic care. The next time you are faced with a decision as to whether to undergo a treatment or have a test, give it a look.
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