News Headlines Article

Why the Best Doctors Often Do Nothing
The Wall Street Journal

Doctors worry that if they don’t do something [pick one: start a medicine/order a test/refer to a specialist], patients will be dissatisfied and go elsewhere. Doing something is a quick way to make patients feel heard, even if it is a poor substitute for actually having the time to listen. But we also feel pushed to act because many patients have been taught to believe that the good doctors can reliably fix problems by trying medications, ordering tests, and referring to specialists.

That leads to knee-jerk medicine. If your blood sugar is a little high, prescribe a pill to lower it. If you have back pain, get a CT of the spine to see what’s causing it. If you have a headache, refer to a neurologist to evaluate it (let them get the CT of the head).

Knee-jerk medicine is not good for you. More medications, more testing and more referrals quickly add up to real money – money that is increasingly, as first-dollar insurance coverage disappears, coming out of your pocket.