Healthcare: The Testing Glut (Los Angeles Times)


In this opinion piece for the Los Angeles Times, Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth Professor H. Gilbert Welch discusses the recent recommendations from nine medical organizations for physicians to reduce the number of tests they prescribe for patients.

Welch points out that the idea of cutting back on testing is not new. “What was different this time,” Welch writes, “was the source of the recommendations.” He explains, “They came from the heart of the medical profession: the medical specialty boards and societies representing cardiologists, radiologists, gastroenterologists and other doctors,” Welch says. “In other words, they came from the very groups that stand to benefit from doing more, not less.”

As he notes in the opinion piece, Welch believes that the recommendations given by the specialty societies to cut back is a good start to assessing medical testing and he hopes that it continues. He offers his own recommendation to physicians: “Don’t feel compelled to end every patient encounter with an order for a test, a recommendation for a procedure or a prescription for a medication.”

Welch is also the director of the Center for Medicine and the Media at The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice.

Read the full op-ed, published 5/2/12 by the Los Angeles Times.

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