Re "The testing glut," Opinion, May 2
Kudos to the medical specialty boards for recommending limits to unnecessary testing. A patient without symptoms who undergoes a routine exam will have at least 15 different blood tests done in addition to a number of radiological studies. These tests are usually negative, or they may be borderline and provoke further testing.
Medical specialty boards are informing, but physicians must be receptive. Furthermore,
patients should know that excessive testing is not good medicine. It is expensive and often harmful.
Physicians are taught, "First, do no harm." Good idea.
Eugene Strull, MD
H. Gilbert Welch writes about physicians doing unnecessary tests. I support efforts to curtail this.
However, it is frequently necessary to carry out tests or procedures to rule out certain explanations for symptoms or illnesses. The results are frequently normal or negative, but this does not mean that the test or procedure should not have been carried out.
Lawrence R. Freedman, MD
Though helpful and illuminating, Welch omitted an important objection to over-testing: It scares the patients.
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