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The harm of overtreatment

On Behalf of | Oct 26, 2018 | Surgical Errors |

When people feel under the weather, they go to the doctor’s office. They expect to receive care, but one study has found that many doctors often give patients too much treatment. According to PLOS ONE, about 21 percent of all medical care is completely unnecessary.

Not only is this wasteful for hospitals that spend millions of dollars every year on treatments patients do not need, but it also can lead to direct harm to the patient. It is critical for all patients to remain active participants in their medical care and to know precisely why a doctor has recommended a particular medication or procedure. Remaining vocal can prevent medical negligence in the first place. 

Why does this happen?

Many doctors get into the habit of performing specific treatments for certain conditions, failing to consider the exact needs of a patient. Medical professionals may feel compelled to do more than necessary out of fear of a lawsuit. While overtreatment could lead to a medical malpractice lawsuit on its own, many doctors worry that if they do too little, then patients will sue regardless. 

Finally, many doctors overtreat a patient due to the person’s demands. Patients want to be confident they are healthy, so they want every possible treatment imaginable to make sure the disease has gone away. It is vital for patients to trust their doctors. If the expert says a given treatment is not necessary, then most of the time that expert will be correct. 

What harm can come from overly aggressive treatment?

In the worst-case scenario, overtreatment places additional stress on the patient, leading to injury or death. It is also beneficial for doctors to avoid more treatments than necessary because it can place undue financial hardships on the population. Recommending unnecessary treatments may force patients to pay for more procedures out of their own pockets.