Overutilization: Who's at Fault?
Overutilization of laboratory testing services is often discussed in the industry as relating primarily to physicians' levels of understanding about when and why to order which tests. But an intriguing blog post
on the New York Times
"Well" blog discusses some other reasons for overutilization.
According to a recent study in the Archives of Internal Medicine
, doctors know they are delivering too much healthcare. They claim, however, that it's not because they don't understand the clinical utility of laboratory tests (or X-rays, pharmaceuticals, etc.). Instead, physicians are driven to provide excessive care to protect themselves from malpractice suits, because they don't have enough time with their patients, and more than half of the doctors surveyed felt that the clinical guidelines and quality measures in place are forcing them to take unnecessary measure in providing healthcare.
Of course, this isn't just looking at utilization of laboratory tests, but it's an important factor to consider for the laboratorian who may be baffled at some test requests from physicians. What do you think? Is the pressure coming at doctors from so many sides ruining healthcare? What instances of poor utilization does your laboratory see--and what can be done to correct the situation?