Quick Takes

Doctors Still Order Too Many Tests; Bad Online Reviews; More

Neil Chesanow


August 29, 2014

In This Article

Doctors Know They Order Too Many Tests -- but Will They Stop?

Of 600 doctors participating in a new survey by the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) Foundation, nearly 75% say the frequency with which physicians order unnecessary tests and procedures is a serious problem for the US healthcare system.[1] But nearly three out of four respondents also say that the average doctor does this anyway at least once a week. Some other key findings:

66% of physicians surveyed feel they have a great responsibility to ensure their patients avoid unnecessary tests and procedures.

53% of respondents say that even if they know a medical test is unnecessary, they will order it if a patient insists. Nearly one half say that patients do so at least once a week.

58% of participants say they are in the best position to address the problem, with the government a distant second (15%).

70% of physicians surveyed say that after they speak with a patient about why a test or procedure is unnecessary, the patient often agrees.

The survey was conducted two years after the ABIM Foundation's introduction of its Choosing Wisely® initiative, which encourages doctors and patients to think and talk about whether certain tests and procedures are really necessary for the patients' condition. Over 20% of doctors participating in the new survey say they are aware of the Choosing Wisely campaign. Of those, 62% say they are more apt to have reduced the number of times they recommended a test or procedure because they learned it was unnecessary, vs 45% of doctors who are unaware of the Choosing Wisely campaign.


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