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Many Doctors Think Patients Get Over-Treated, Study Says
Date:9/26/2011

By Maureen Salamon
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Sept. 26 (HealthDay News) -- When it comes to medical care, nearly half of U.S. primary care physicians believe their own patients are over-treated.

A national mail survey of 627 doctors randomly selected from the American Medical Association Physician Masterfile showed that 42 percent believe patients in their own practice get too much medical care, while 52 percent think the amount of care is just right.

But only 6 percent believe their patients receive too little care, the survey found.

"Remember, these are patients in their own practice -- that's an important part of the way we chose to ask the question," said study author Dr. Brenda Sirovich, a staff physician and research associate at the VA Outcomes Group in White River Junction, Vt., and an associate professor of community and family medicine at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice.

"Presumably these physicians have a hand in overseeing their patients' care," Sirovich added. "We believe that's a provocative finding. The most important thing we found is that primary care physicians see there's a problem with the excesses of the health care system, and successful reform would be much harder if successful physicians didn't see that and weren't engaged in the solution."

The study is published Sept. 26 in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Sirovich and her colleagues said several measures, including malpractice reforms or having more time with patients, could reduce pressure on doctors to offer more care than they feel is needed. Many health care epidemiologists and economists have suggested that much U.S. health care is actually unnecessary, the study authors said.

The survey, conducted between June and December 2009, also found that 28 percent of respondents said they were practicing more aggressively -- such as ordering more tests -- than they would lik
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