Have you ever called your doctor because of a small concern only to be sent through a barrage of testing before even being seen by the physician? Have you ever been told by your doctor that you received unnecessary treatments because of a false positive on a test? If so, you are like many Americans who have been subjected to overtreatment by their physicians.
While, on the surface, receiving unnecessary tests may seem like erring on the side of safety, they can actually have harmful consequences for the patient. Most apparently, each test ordered by a doctor costs money, which will have to be covered by the patient, the insurance company or both parties. In many cases, if the insurance company does not deem the test necessary, coverage may be refused, leaving a huge financial burden on the patient.
Overdiagnosis And Overtreatment
Apart from the financial implications, however, subjecting patients to unnecessary testing can lead to physical harm as well. Whenever a patient receives a medical test, there is a chance that the results will show a false positive. In such situations, the doctor and patient may then be under the mistaken impression that the patient is suffering from a serious illness.
When a doctor orders additional tests that the patient does not need, the likelihood of a false positive increases. In turn, false positive tests typically lead to unnecessary treatments, ranging from prescribing medications to ordering surgery. When a patient receives treatments he or she does not actually need, a range of health risks result.
For instance, a patient could have a negative reaction to a prescription medication. In some cases, patients who undergo unnecessary surgery can suffer serious complications, placing the patient in a significantly worse position than if he or she had never had the test in the first place.
In addition to false positives, overdiagnosis also lead to unnecessary treatment that can be harmful to the patient. Overdiagnosis is a term used to describe a situation in which the diagnosed disease would not have caused any symptoms if it had not been detected.
Cancer is one disease in which overdiagnosis has become a serious concern. According to a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, cancer is overdiagnosed with the following frequency:
- 25 percent of breast cancers found on mammograms
- 50 percent of lung cancers detected on chest X-rays or sputum tests
- 60 percent of prostate cancers diagnosed by PSA
In many cases, patients may be treated as a result of the findings from these tests, even though the cancer would never cause the patient any harm.
Hold Physicians Accountable For Harm Caused By Overtreatment
If you have been subjected to unnecessary treatments or have suffered due to overdiagnosis, a knowledgeable New Jersey personal injury attorney will ensure your rights are protected.