$265 billion dollars is wasted on health care each year in the United States: overspending is a major issue, and can be attributed to many factors, but a strong source of waste is overtreatment. Overtreatment, or the prescription of unnecessary medical care, is quite common, and in many cases leads to a malpractice lawsuit. By understanding how prevalent overtreatment is in the healthcare industry, we can can begin to prevent it, and recognize when action must be taken.
How it happens
Overtreatment has never been more common that it is in the currant climate. In a survey of more than 2,000 doctors, the majority believed that as much as 20% of medical care is completely unnecessary. This includes prescription medications, procedures and tests. In some instances, it is the patient who orders more to be done; however, the blame also lies with doctors, who may order unnecessary tests, procedures and medications for financial benefit, or out of fear of a malpractice lawsuit. In other cases, overtreatment can stems from a misdiagnosis, leading doctors to prescribe care for a condition the patient doesn’t have.
The dangers involved
Overtreatment can be extremely dangerous, and can do severe damage to the human body. The most common forms of overtreatment result in unnecessary tests, medications and even procedures, and each can lead to several harmful consequences. For example, unneeded surgeries can lead to pain, trauma and suffering, as well as financial stress. Furthermore, unnecessary tests can increase risks of false positives, and unneeded medications can bring unpleasant side-effects to patients without a medical benefit. In some rare cases, overtreatment can lead to more severe health consequences, and even death. In fact, the Los Angeles Times reports that overly aggressive medical care causes mistakes and injuries that lead to a shocking 30,000 fatalities each year.
For individuals who believe they have been subject to overtreatment – especially if it resulted in bodily harm or suffering – hiring an attorney can be a step forward in receiving compensation and demanding accountability from those responsible. Firms that specialize in medical malpractice cases are dedicated to fighting for justice in overtreatment cases, and have achieved significant successes in the field. JJS Justice report recovering multi-million verdicts for their clients, which goes a long way towards enabling wronged parties to move forward.
When it comes to preventing overtreatment, keeping an open line of communication between the patient and the health professional is important. Patients should feel empowered to ask for the reasoning behind tests, medications and procedures. Full access to this information allows them to make informed decisions and determine whether the proposed treatment is necessary. Patients are also advised to seek a second opinion, which can help to prevent misdiagnosis, thus avoiding overtreatment.
The more cases of overtreatment can be avoided, the stronger the healthcare system will be, protecting not only patients, but valuable funding as well. When malpractice occurs, it’s important that individuals and institutions are held accountable in order to improve conditions going forward.
All opinions expressed on USDR are those of the author and not necessarily those of US Daily Review.