These days, just about everyone is being diagnosed with some sort of condition – whether chronic or not. As you age, it is more likely that you will be diagnosed with something, but over diagnosis is also on the rise. The issue with over diagnosis is continually growing in the United States because of the use of high resolution diagnostic testing – allowing physicians to pick up smaller and earlier signs of a disease. By detecting early, physicians hope that they can treat their patients and limit the impact the condition has on their lives – however, not all diagnoses are correct, and some of those conditions diagnosed carry dangerous treatments, with even more dangerous side-effects.
Three Ways in Which Patients Are Over Diagnosed
There are three forms of over diagnoses, which include:
- Detecting a disease in a person who does not display symptoms of that disease, and will never have any complications.
- Using a definition of a disease or risk factor to encourage a patient to change his or her lifestyle – such as saying that he or she has high cholesterol, and therefore, is at a higher risk for heart attack.
- Taking normal experiences, such as aging, and defining them as a disease symptom. For example, if a patient has difficulty sleeping (which is common as you age), he or she could be diagnosed with restless leg syndrome and put on medication – which is not necessary.
What Conditions Are Being Diagnosed Too Much?
There are five medical conditions being continually over diagnosed in the country, according to an article in the Huffington Post. These include:
- Chronic Kidney Disease – Prior to 2002, it was estimated that one out of 58 adults had this – putting them at risk for kidney failure. Today, one out of eight adults have the disease, but rarely do any of those diagnosed progress into forms of kidney disease or outright failure.
- Low Testosterone – You have probably seen commercials on TV for this. American men are tired, grumpy, and have limited libido; therefore, doctors assume that they must have low testosterone. Unfortunately, these commercials on TV are only fueling the mass, uncontrolled assumption that if you are without energy, you must need a pill to fix your low testosterone. These medications alone are dangerous, and patients should be assessed for other conditions or lifestyle changes before automatically being prescribed testosterone replacement therapy.
- Pre-Dementia – This is a mild cognitive impairment that may progress into Alzheimer’s Disease or other forms of dementia in the future. However, there are no effective treatments for this condition, and it is not clear how many people with pre-dementia actually form dementia. The real question, however, is if the diagnosis is even worth it; or if it does nothing but scare patients.
- Thyroid Cancer – Between 1979 and 2009, the number of people diagnosed with thyroid cancer tripled per year; yet, the number of those who died did not even change. This is because modern diagnostic technology is so sophisticated that it can pick up cancer cells – and most of those stay harmless. Instead of chemo, doctors often do watchful waiting to see if the cancerous cells actually become harmful, but there are some doctors who will start treating.
- Total Body Scans – These scans were created to look at the entire body and pick up cancer, heart problems, and other ailments. But, they are not necessary and definitely should not be used on healthy individuals. These lead to all types of over diagnosed conditions, and often cause patients more stress than providing relief.
Did You Suffer Unnecessary Testing and Treatment?
The negative result of over diagnosing conditions is that patients are now experiencing unnecessary treatments, medications, and tests just to continually diagnose problems that are not there. These are costly, painful, and can actually lead to more complications. If you have been over diagnosed or forced into medical treatments that were unnecessary, you may have a claim for malpractice. Contact Berkowitz and Hanna LLC today to schedule a no-obligation case evaluation. Contact us online to get started.