• Tue. Sep 27th, 2022

Here are the 10 best overused medical treatments in the United States, according to scientists


A review of last year’s literature on medical care in the United States highlighted ten diagnostic procedures and treatments that were overused in 2016, with the aim of highlighting ways to make the medical system better. effective and more efficient.

While doctors do a wonderful job with often very limited resources, sometimes balancing time and cost means that pills and procedures are prescribed without the best interests of the patient being in mind.

“Too often, healthcare professionals don’t trust the latest data and their patients don’t receive the best care,” says researcher Daniel Morgan of the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

“I hope this study will spread the word about the most overused tests and treatments.”

The team searched journal articles in the PubMed archives, using search terms such as overuse, overtreatment, inappropriate, and unnecessary.

The team reviewed 2,252 articles, of which 1,224 dealt directly with drug overuse.

Specifically, the articles reported on “care in which the potential harm outweighs the potential benefits.”

These were reduced to 122 articles which were identified as important. The researchers then agreed on their next “top ten”.

None of these results should be taken to mean that these tests and procedures should be avoided. This is to make sure that there is a good reason based on your situation for the specific procedure to be prescribed.

We are not healthcare professionals ourselves, so our best advice is, as always, not to be afraid to ask your doctor for more information.

Transesophageal echocardiography

Simply put, this procedure takes pictures of your heart using ultrasound through a tube inserted into your esophagus. A doctor can use it instead of taking an EKG, but research suggests that any additional detail it might produce is not worth the risks of being sedated.

Computed tomography pulmonary angiography

A diagnostic test that images the pulmonary arteries in patients with respiratory symptoms using a CT scan. It is not invasive and is very sensitive, but hits the patient with a dose of radiation. Waiting for this test is likely to cause delays which increase the risk of developing complications.

CT scan in any patient with respiratory symptoms

Any type of CT scan on a patient with non-life-threatening respiratory symptoms, according to the study, does little to improve the patient’s outcome. Worse still, these scanners raise the risk of false positives, where the test indicates a non-existent pathology.

Carotid artery ultrasound and stenting

Carotid ultrasounds are done to test the width of the arteries in the neck, which could help indicate the risk of stroke.

Early diagnosis can save lives, but researchers found that 9 of 10 tests performed on asymptomatic patients that resulted in the insertion of an artery-widening “stent” had been performed for the wrong reasons.

Since stents require surgery, it is likely that a number of them unnecessarily inflate the risk.

Aggressive management of prostate cancer

Prostate cancer is another disease that can be treated easily if caught early.

A blood test for markers called prostate antigens can do this, but it’s hard to tell if they are produced by an aggressive tumor that needs to be treated or a slow-growing tumor that the patient may take to their grave in their midst. years to come.

Only 1% of men who had their prostate removed – risking the complications that came with it – died of cancer. Of those who have kept their prostate? Much the same.

Supplemental oxygen for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Giving more oxygen to patients with COPD has not helped their lungs function better or improve their well-being. But it can cause them to retain carbon dioxide. Which is not good.

Meniscal cartilage tear surgery

Tearing the shock-absorbing C-shaped cartilage discs on the inside of your knee is no laughing matter. But going to the trouble of repairing it surgically turned out to have little benefit that could not be achieved through conservative management and rehabilitation.

Nutritional support for hospitalized patients

Overall, malnutrition does not do a patient much good. In contrast, providing nutritional support to critically ill patients made no difference in terms of hospitalization or mortality, although it did help them gain weight.

In the event of organ failure or metabolic complications, this support may come with risks that are not balanced by benefits.

Use of antibiotics

A 2016 study estimated that 506 prescriptions were written from 2010 to 2011 per 1,000 people. Only 353 could be considered appropriate.

The CDC’s national action plan to fight antibiotic-resistant bacteria aims to reduce inappropriate outpatient antibiotic use by 50% over the next few years.

The researchers noted that among the measures in this plan, the most effective was to use social pressure, encouraging physicians to take note of good prescribing practices among their colleagues.

Using Cardiac Imaging

Cardiac imaging for patients with chest pain was found to have tripled over the past decade, while it did nothing for low-risk patients. This could lead to unnecessary hospital stays and procedures.

The solution? According to the researchers, doctors should share the decision-making with their patient.

Research that takes a critical look at how professionals deliver medical care is important to maintaining high standards with the resources available.

This research was published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

An earlier version of this article was published in October 2017.


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