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Many patients disregard physician recommendations

Physician Practice Advisor, March 21, 2007

Roughly one-quarter of Americans say they have left a drug prescription unfilled because they felt it was unnecessary, and a fifth have obtained a second opinion because they felt their physicians' recommendations were too aggressive, according to a Wall Street Journal Online/Harris Interactive healthcare poll.

The poll measured concerns about overtreatment and how patients responded to doctor recommendations. Patient responses to perceived overtreatment included the following:

  • 13% have avoided diagnostic tests
  • 7% decided not to undergo recommended surgical procedures
  • 7% have switched physicians because they considered their physician's recommendations overly agressive

Forty-three percent of respondents were concerned about overtreatment by physicians. The majority suspected physicians overtreat because of concerns about medical liability lawsuits. Forty-five percent said physicians overtreat to make more money, and 44% said it was to meet patient demand.