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Are California doctors trying to be safe instead of sorry?

A recent survey claims that emergency room doctors are being too careful when it comes to their patients, but that certainly begs the question: Don't we want our doctors to be as careful as possible?

According to the survey, out of 435 ER doctors who were questioned, 97 percent confessed that they had ordered patients to be scanned by MRI and/or CT scanning devices unnecessarily. The doctors claimed that they ordered the scans out of a fear that they had missed something important.

Some claim that this is a sign of medical waste and it is decisions like this that are driving up the cost of medical care for everyday Americans. Indeed, $210 billion worth of medical waste happens each year, and doctors should be doing everything they can to prevent such waste.

Nevertheless, it is likely a safe bet to say that most patients would prefer to be safe rather than sorry. Who knows who might actually have the potentially undetected illness that the doctor is worried about.

One Los Angeles emergency doctor commented on the survey results by saying that physicians dislike uncertainty. The doctor claimed that most physicians operate under the notion that when in doubt, it is always better to guess. The physician said that most doctors do not consider the fact that unnecessary testing is increasing medical costs across the board and in some cases, additional testing can have medical health results.

If a particular MRI test shows a false positive, for example, it could trigger biopsies, surgeries, treatments and other tests that are more risky for a patient's health.

That said, most California residents would probably rather play it safe rather than sorry when it comes to their health. Maybe the fact that physicians are ordering more tests is a sign that personal injury cases are working to make doctors more careful in some cases.

Source: physiciansnews.com, "Malpractice Fears Lead Most ER Docs to Order Unnecessary Tests," Dennis Thompson, March. 25, 2015

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