Saturday, April 14, 2018

My MD wants me to get an exam for my low back pain. Should I?

When you look into various medical situations and illnesses you find an amazing number and kinds of treatments are now available! The question then becomes - are they really all needed?

For example, let look at what we will call Procedure A. Studies and other information tell us - generally it works and good results are achieved. However, sometimes procedures don't work because humans are not all the same!

Now let's say someone comes up with the idea of another approach for the same medical situation, which we will call Procedure B. An extensive amount of work, time, and expense is required to evaluate and get approval from the FDA for Procedure B’s approach. Then one wonders - are the results to be achieved from Procedure B really so much better than from the older and still useful Procedure A? Then too, the cost to be charged for Procedure B is much higher so are the results really worth this additional cost?

A study in one state looked into this. 1.3 million people who received a service or treatment on a list of procedures known to often be over-used were reviewed and about 50% were found to be overused or considered to have low value. IOW they have little benefit for people!

There were 47 treatments/services in the study and 93% of the overuse came from just 11 of them! An image to look at low back pain was being over-used.

Some points to think about:

  • If many procedures are being over-used or have little value in one state they are also happening in all the others. 
  • What does the cost of unneeded or low-quality treatments/services due to what we all have to pay for medical insurance?
  • There is a lot of media coverage today on another overuse issue - opioids for pain. Studies have shown non-prescription treatment is often just as effective and does not have the side effects.

OK? What can be done about overuse & low quality? I encourage everyone to talk to their MD when any treatment or special test is being suggested. To help in talking to any MD the Choosing Wisely organization developed five useful questions:
☀︎ Do I really need this test or procedure?
☀︎ What are the risks and side effects?
☀︎ Are there simpler, safer options?
☀︎ What happens if I don’t do anything?
☀︎ How much does it cost and will my insurance pay for it.

Choosing Wisely is working to advance a national dialogue on avoiding unnecessary medical tests, treatments, and procedures.

You can find more information about this great program helping individuals get involved with their health and thus have a better lifestyle!

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