Are Health Tests Really a Good Idea?

medical tests

GPs occasionally receive requests from patients to order specific medical health tests that may or may not be appropriate in the management of the patient. Test requests arise from a variety of sources. Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) practitioners ( Naturopaths ) might advise patients that they can avoid paying for specific tests if they ask a GP to order them through Medicare.

Robina 7  Doctors and Acupuncture recommend this video from Dr Michael Mosley on the pros and cons of health tests:

https://ihavenotv.com/are-health-tests-really-a-good-idea-horizon

GPs may experience pressure to comply with these requests in order to preserve good relations with their patients. They may also be concerned about medico-legal liability that might stem from delayed diagnosis. However, there are various risks associated with ordering tests that are unlikely to be of clinical benefit.

Questions to ask are :

Do I need this test?

Talk to your GP about what you want to learn from the
test and how you think having the test might improve your
health.

What are the risks involved in having this test?

In some situations, having a test can be harmful, such
as when the results lead the patient to have unnecessary
treatment. Your GP can provide information about potential
harms and help you decide whether the benefits of having a
test are likely to outweigh the risks and costs.

What will this test cost?

Medicare will pay the costs associated with a number of
diagnostic tests. If a test is not subsidised by Medicare
but it is available in Australia and your health practitioner is
willing to order it, you will need to pay all the costs yourself.
In some cases, testing can be very expensive

Are there other options for me?

Your GP may know of alternatives to testing that are
simpler, cheaper, more accurate, or more useful. Ask about
the risks and benefits of these options.

Here are some useful links:

https://www.racgp.org.au/download/Documents/Policies/Clinical/Patient-information-on-appropriate-diagnostic-testing.pdf

http://www.choosingwisely.org.au/recommendations?displayby=MedicalTest

http://www.labtestsonline.org.au/

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