9 Everyday Medical Tests You Can Do Without
Is tonsil removal for sore throat complaints, wise? Are blood tests for mild allergies, quite necessary? Oftentimes recommended diagnostic procedures for generalized ailments can be opted out by patients. Some physicians call for tests, simply to ease the minds of patients, reducing their worry and frustrations.
“Doctors from nine U.S. medical societies are warning patients and fellow physicians that many common medical tests are actually unnecessary...[and] are also driving up the country’s already skyrocketing health care costs.”
These doctors launched an initiative called “Choosing Wisely” listing 45 procedures that patients should question; here are 9 of them:
CT Scans and Antibiotics for Sinus. Sinus infections or acute Rhinosinusitis does not require a CT scan or antibiotics. Sinusitis is an inflammation of the nasal passage that causes pain and can usually be remedied with humidifiers and over the counter analgesics.
- X-ray/MRI for Low Back Pain. Imaging for lumbar pain is unnecessary within the first 6 weeks of pain. Low back pain is the 5th most common reason for doctor visits, but unless red flags exists, such as abnormal brain and nerve functioning, such imaging should be delayed.
- Bone Density Tests - Osteoporosis. Screening for osteoporosis are not recommended for individuals who are low risk, middle-aged and younger. Only women above 65 years and men above age 70 years should be screened.
- Annual Heart Tests. Persons who are low risk for heart disease do not need yearly electrocardiograms, according to the Medical Society of Nuclear Cardiology.
- Allergy Tests. Blood tests such as immunoglobulin G, for allergies is not needed and should be questioned. Instead, patients can rely on skin allergy tests and IgE tests for accurate diagnosis.
- Brain Imaging after Fainting or Painful Headaches. After fainting if the patient has no evidence of seizure or other neurological complications then a brain scan is baseless. Those with painful headaches without risk factors for structural disease will not benefit from imaging tests.
- Colonoscopy. Once every 10 years, patients 50 years and older should perform a colonoscopy. For patients who have had small polyps, every 5 years is recommended.
- Cancer Screening for Dialysis Patients. According to the American Society of Nephrology, dialysis patients (with kidney failure) do not need routine cancer screenings--to the contrary--these tests cause false positives, unnecessary stress, and overtreatments.
- Chest X-rays before Surgery. Patients without thoracic complications (heart and lung problems) have no need to undergo chest exams before minor surgery, according to the American College of Physicians.
The U.S. medical societies responsible for launching this initiative consist of 374,000 concerned physicians who feel these tests may do more harm than good.