Why unnecessary medical tests are bad for patients

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  • Boghos L. Artinian MD says:

    Pacing in the Tomb

    He lay helpless and terminally ill;
    His cells gone berserk for the final kill.
    Entered the intern softly whistling,
    Snatched a stethoscope and started listening.
    He told the family face to face:
    ‘Folks, his pacemaker is out of pace!’
    Suitably dodging the oncologist
    Presently entered the cardiologist:
    ‘Some beats missing.’ A clear indication
    That his pacemaker needed extirpation .
    ‘The replacement?’ ‘The latest model,
    Once in place we need no more meddle.’
    So he had a minor intervention
    To implant that wonderful contraption
    That could outlast a healthy groom
    And pace eternally in his tomb!

    Boghos L. Artinian MD

  • Mark Anderson says:

    Total rubbish. One test should not automatically lead to another, as the same logic applied to the initial test in theory will be applied to the necessity of any of the future tests.

    Any anomaly’s that shows up, will at the least give the Doctor something to keep an eye on in the future. If mildly or non-invasive testing is causing detrimental medical results, change the medicine.

    More testing should be routinely carried out, if for no other reason than to collate more data. This would also have a knock on effect of driving the cost of testing down and improving the overall understanding of thousands of conditions.

    How many medical conditions if caught later are cheaper to cure or badger into remission ( barring death of a patient, unless of course this is the aim). None spring to mind.

    Get over the fear of misdiagnosing or mistreating, Do the damn tests and work out what to do afterwards. We all know medicine is not an exact science. Failing that walk around with your eyes shut, in case you see a pimple that you mis-prescribe a cream for ;)


Paul Taylor


Paul Taylor is a health journalist and former Patient Navigation Advisor at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, where he provided advice and answered questions from patients and their families. Paul will continue to write occasional columns for Healthy Debate.

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