- Doctors ordered more than $9,500 in tests and treatments per person in the U.S. in 2014, according to CMS.
- Total healthcare spending rose 5.3% from the previous year, due in part to "therapeutic illusion”—physicians’ tendency to overprescribe treatments they deem effective, an article in the New England Journal of Medicine says.
- The authors urge greater consideration of when certain tests and treatments are appropriate.
Efforts in recent years to limit unnecessary test and treatments, such as the Choosing Wisely campaign, have seen limited success due to doctors’ tendency to “overestimate the effects of their actions,” the authors say.
This tendency, called the “illusion of control,” is seen in other areas than healthcare, such as gambling, where people regularly overestimate the amount of control they have over outcomes.
While more complex and evidence-based, the decisions physicians also are subject to illusion. “The outcome of virtually all medical decisions is at least partly outside the physician’s control, and random chance can encourage physicians to embrace mistake beliefs about causality,” the authors state.
They recommend that doctors look for explanations as to why a particular treatment seemed to be effective, and also signs of failure in addition to research.