June 3, 2012

SURE, IT'S HARMFUL, BUT IT'S FREE!:

Let's (Not) Get Physicals (ELISABETH ROSENTHAL,  June 2, 2012, NY Times)

FOR decades, scientific research has shown that annual physical exams -- and many of the screening tests that routinely accompany them -- are in many ways pointless or (worse) dangerous, because they can lead to unneeded procedures. The last few years have produced a steady stream of new evidence against the utility of popular tests:

Prostate specific antigen blood tests to detect prostate cancer? No longer recommended by the United States Preventive Services Task Force.

Routine EKGs? No use.

Yearly Pap smears? Nope. (Every three years.)

So why do Americans, nearly alone on the planet, remain so devoted to the ritual physical exam and to all of these tests, and why do so many doctors continue to provide them? Indeed, the last decade has seen a boom in what hospitals and health care companies call "executive physicals" -- batteries of screening exams for apparently healthy people, purporting to ferret out hidden disease with the zeal of Homeland Security officers searching for terrorists.

Make folks pay out of pocket and the whole habit will disappear.

Posted by at June 3, 2012 12:33 PM
  

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