By L.J. Hodek-Creapeau, Circkles Editor
Mammograms, prostate tests, colonoscopies…just how necessary is all this testing?
Forty percent of people between the age of 40 and 65 have an EKG, and twelve percent have had an exercise stress test. It costs at least $100 for the tests alone, and an additional $200 just for a doctor’s visit. The more concerning issue is that these tests are not very reliable due to false positives. According to a Consumer Reports study, a person at low risk for heart disease is ten times more likely to receive a false positive than a true result.
Most patients believe all these “unnecessary” tests are just a way for hospitals and the medical profession to suck more money out of people, scare people into office visits, and pad their bills. The real reason behind so much over-testing is that doctors and hospitals are so overly paranoid of malpractice lawsuits, they’ve taken on the practice of over-testing as it’s better to be safe than sorry and have a patient come back later and complain about something that is missed or not diagnosed.
Just a Few of the More Erroneous Medical Exams Include:
PSA test for prostate cancer:
According to physician Reed Blackwelder, the president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, “The PSA test causes more harm than benefit.” For a test that costs around $75, that’s concerning. Why? Again, false positives. An estimated 75% of tests that come back high in PSA are false alarms. The test often leads to ultrasounds, lab tests and biopsies to treat a problem where there isn’t one. When treatments such as surgery and radiation are involved, men can end up with problems like impotence and incontinence.
X-Rays or MRIs for back pain:
One study discovered that those who had an MRI for back pain were 8 times more likely to have surgery – that did not lead to quicker relief. Eighty percent of people suffer from back pain at some point in their lives, and with it usually comes agonizing and debilitating suffering. Many seek treatment as a way to escape the excruciating misery. However, many doctors decide to skip right away to expensive, unreliable radiation imaging such as X-rays CT scans or MRIs. Often back pain can be caused by very simple things: such as a bad mattress, poor posture, sitting too much, lifting incorrectly and more.
Annual mammograms, colonoscopies and electrocardiograms or stress tests:
As we mentioned above, stress tests often produce inaccurate results. Most insurance companies will tell you that it is unnecessary to get a mammogram or colonoscopy every year. Many recommend every 3 years to be more than sufficient, yet your doctor’s office will try to convince you that you need one every year, and some doctor’s offices will automatically schedule you for annual exams – or in extremely horrible instances – will refuse treatment for another condition if you are not up to date on your annual mammogram, pap smear, colonoscopy or prostate check. This latter practice of refusing treatment unless you get these test smacks of just a way to pad your bill and force you to have tests you do not need. I once had a doctor refuse to schedule my surgery to remove a fibroid in my uterus unless I had a mammogram first. My reaction was, “what does one have to do with the other?” Absolutely nothing, and I did firmly believe it was just a ploy to force me into more tests that I did not need at the time.
Many people believe the medical profession uses scare tactics to coerce people into getting more testing than they need. Such as the constant bombardment of vaccines because consumers have been brainwashed for years into believing all the horror stories regarding diseases that have been not even been an issue for years due to better sanitation, or that are not dangerous at all- just inconvenient: such as getting the flu vaccine just because doctors prey on how much we all hate to have the flu. In fact, flu vaccines cause a great deal more harm than good because they create “Super Bugs” – stronger and stronger vaccine-resistant viruses year after year – and they weaken your immune system by creating constant stress to the system.
Of course, all this unnecessary vaccination and testing has also spilled over into the veterinarian profession. The second veterinarians realized how much pet owners love their pets, it seems they have been taking advantage of that love ever since. Any ethical vet will tell you dogs do not need to be vaccinated every year for most of the things they are currently getting annual vaccines for. We vaccinate pets far more than even humans.
How to Prevent Medical Over-testing.
Question everything, have it explained to you in layman’s terms, and if you doubt its validity or necessity, get a second opinion, go to another medical provider that is not so pushy and doesn’t force extra testing, and by all means, educate yourself about your condition so you know if you are being taken advantage of our not.