An article in today Wall Street Journal suggests that one in every five procedures done in the US is unnecessary. I believe this is accurate and, possibly, an underestimate of what is actually occurring.

Most physicians are ethical and conscientious and committed to doing what is right and appropriate for patients. However, there are some who may be motivated by revenue gained from procedures and who don’t adequately consider whether the procedure will actually solve a problem. The article makes the point that almost every senior citizen has calcium plaques in the arteries of their legs, but most of these don’t cause problems with reduced blood flow in the legs and are causing no symptoms. But some of the vascular surgeons mentioned in the article are performing stenting procedures anyway.

The takeaway point for patients is that they should always consider whether there are nonsurgical alternatives before agreeing to undergo a procedure. A good idea is to check with your primary care physician before agreeing to a procedure. He or she does not have any financial incentive and will help you sort through the pros and cons of having the procedure done.

At Dr. Smith Direct Direct Care, we encourage all of our patients to adhere to this practice. The result will lower the cost of health care and improve it as well.