- In a recent survey, emergency physicians admitted to ordering more diagnostic tests than they thought were necessary.
- The survey, which had 435 respondents and was published in Academic Emergency Medicine, focused specifically on imaging tests.
- An astonishing 97% of respondents said they ordered imaging tests that were "medically unnecessary," but they did so in response to external pressures, such as fear of errors and uncertainty.
It's obvious from these survey results that current protocols to prevent overuse clearly aren't working. When asked, survey respondent suggested several methods to address the problem, including tort reform, increased adoption of shared decision-making with patients, feedback to physicians on test-ordering metrics and improved training.
"Acknowledging that uncertainty exists both for the physicians and for their patients may be a good first step," Hemal Kanzaria, MD, lead study author told HealthLeaders Media. "Beyond that, addressing our low tolerance for uncertainty on the part of physicians and patients will really require addressing a number of widespread beliefs that are held in society, including the perception that error is the cause of any bad outcome, or that technology can solve all of our problems, or that catching things early is always beneficial. Myths like that we will have to address."