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Many doctors, hospitals provide care with no proof of benefit

Going to a doctor can be a frightening experience, especially if you have already been diagnosed with a serious medical condition. What is even scarier, however, is that many doctors in New York and across the country have been pushing patients to undergo treatments or procedures that have no proof of providing medical benefit, inflating the cost and risk of health care.

Unless you are a doctor yourself, you expect to deal with competent medical professionals that know about your condition when you go to the hospital. Because your doctor went to medical school, did a residency and is supposed to be updated on current medical best practices, you expect that you will receive the medically necessary and sufficient care form your doctor. According to the chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, however, many doctors and hospitals encourage or perform medical tests and procedures that are not scientifically proven to be beneficial.

The physician argues that some doctors are performing "medical gluttony," which he defines as an unacceptable use or overuse of medical care, raising the costs of health care. As it is, the United States spends more money per person for medical care than all of the other countries and approximately 1.5 times higher than the second-most expensive country. These high costs do not mean that our life expectancy is that great -- there are 49 countries with higher health expectancy rates than the United States.

Not only does the overuse of medical treatments make health care extremely expensive for patients, but it can also put them at risk. Some procedures could put patients' lives at risk, or create a secondary medical condition.

Since many of us are not nurses, doctors or some other kind of health care professionals, we rely on our doctors to provide us with the appropriate care that is necessary to treat our medical conditions. When they don't, they can be held responsible in a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Source: CNN, "How doctors do harm," Otis Brawley, Jan. 30, 2012

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