En español | Most of us go to the doctor when we're sick or for a checkup. Sometimes, our doctors give us tests or send us on to specialists or to the hospital for extra ones — most often as a precaution. We receive advice, maybe a prescription, and stay happy and well. Occasionally, we have to schedule a small procedure or a more complex surgery to fix what isn't right.
Q. Will the new health care reform law do anything to prevent overuse?
A. Health reform legislation has proposed pilot projects that would reduce the incentive for hospitals and doctors to overtreat. This is unlikely to curb overuse anytime soon.
Q. What can be done?
A. People who experience overuse and who are harmed by it need to speak out. Doctors and nurses who see overuse need to blow the whistle. If the public and the professionals did this, overuse would be a front-page story every day in every newspaper in the country.
Q. How does fear play into overuse?
A. It's two-sided. Physicians want to provide the best care to their patients and don't want to miss a critical diagnosis. They want to cover all their bases because patients' lives are in their hands. Fear of missing a diagnosis drives overuse. Patients are afraid, too. Many will want everything done. They may be unaware that the risks could be greater than the benefits.