Halt Unnecessary Medical Tests and Treatments

Target: Vice Admiral Regina Benjamin, Surgeon General of the United States

Goal: Put an end to unnecessary and potentially harmful medical tests and treatments

During any given visit to the doctor’s office, a patient may be asked to undergo a number of ‘routine’ tests or potential treatments. Patients believe that these tests and treatments are prescribed, in good faith, by a professionally trained doctor who is certain of their necessity. However, a recent movement of medical professionals is revealing that often times these tests and treatments (routine as they may be) are not necessary and may even be potentially harmful.  Thus far, more than 150 unnecessary tests and treatments have been identified by doctors and medical professionals.

Choosing Wisely, as the campaign has come to be known, is trying to get the word out to doctors and patients to dispense with unnecessary tests and   treatments. According to Choosing Wisely partner Dr John Santa, if doctors did away with their list of unnecessary procedures, it would save patients and the health care system billions of dollars a year.  For example, one medical group with 300,000 patients calculated that they could reduce their costs by $1 million yearly if they stop ordering needless electrocardiograms (EKG) and bone-density tests.  If this is applied on a national scale, the savings are approximately $1 billion yearly. More importantly, however, some of these tests are potentially harmful.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) lists elective cesareans among its procedures that may be unnecessary and harmful. According to Federal data, the rate of cesareans in the United States increased more than 10 percent from 1996 to 2001. A lot of this is likely attributed to the increased demand for early labor inductions from expectant mothers. However, there is an increased risk of complications for both the mother and the baby with cesareans preformed before week 39. Mothers can expect an increased risk of complications in later pregnancies as well as increased risk of postnatal depression; similarly, the risk of death and health problems later in life increases for the baby. For these reasons Intermountain Healthcare, a medical group in Utah, recently reduced its number of elective cesareans from 28 percent of births down to 2 percent.  Annually, this saved the state of Utah some $50 million, while costing Intermountain $9 million in lost revenue.

So, as it turns out, better care reduces revenues, which explains why so many unnecessary tests and treatments are routinely used. Poor clinical procedures can often increase revenue streams for hospitals and medical groups. Thus, patients may be subjected to tests and procedures which are potentially harmful to them in order for a few greedy individuals to make a profit. Sign below to show your support for stopping unnecessary medical tests and treatments.


Dear Vice Admiral Regina Benjamin,

Doctors and medical practitioners from across the United States are organizing to bring an end to unnecessary medical tests and treatments. The campaign Choosing Wisely has identified more than 150 ‘routine’ tests and treatments which may not be necessary and could be potentially harmful to patients. Moreover, dispensing with these tests will save state and federal health care systems billions of dollars annually.

Resistance to halting these tests is due, in part, to the subsequent decrease in revenues for hospitals and medical groups. It is unconscionable to think that medical professionals would order tests or prescribe treatments that are potentially harmful for their personal financial gain. Please support a mandate to end these superfluous procedures.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: dtrimarchi via Flickr

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One Comment

  1. The healthcare problem is due to all of this fraud and inefficiency. The whole system needs an overhaul so that it truly benefits the whole population.

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