Many U.S. primary care physicians believe their patients are receiving too much medical care, a new survey finds.
The researchers say that 42 percent of physicians reported that their own patients receive too much health care - tests and treatments that may result in overdiagnosis and drug-related adverse effects.
Nearly half of the physicians admitted they were overly aggressive in providing care to their patients.
The doctors who were surveyed said the major factor responsible for this practice was malpractice concern. Around 76 percent said doctors overtreat their patients for the fear of malpractice lawsuits.
The doctors said the another reason contributing to this attitude was that they had too little time to listen to the patients, hence they preferred to do every possible treatment, which sometimes became overtreatment.
Doctors said that sometimes the experience of supporting a dying patient is likely an additional reason for overly aggressive treatment.
But almost all the physicians agreed that they all vary in what they would do for identical patients.
The physicians also noted that if they practiced less aggressively, diagnostic testing would be reduced and would generate less revenue for medical subspecialists.
According to the statistics, only 6 percent physicians thought that patients were getting too little care and that increased testing and treatment helped reassure patients.
The primary care physicians were themselves unhappy with the increasing number of tasks they must perform for each patient in short periods.
Many agreed, It feels more efficient to order tests, starting with minimally invasive procedures but inevitably escalating to more invasive ones that incur increasing levels of risk; it can be easy to jump to diagnostic conclusions without fully attending to the patient's history.
The study, published in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine, involves two of the three authors of the book - Overdiagnosed: Making People Sick in the Pursuit of Health - Lisa Schwartz and Steven Woloshin, who conducted a nationally representative mail survey of U.S. primary care physicians.