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Five questions to avoid overtreatment

With the rise in healthcare costs, many patients already know that spending often goes to unnecessary testing and treatments. Did you also know that this kind of "overtreatment" can also be dangerous? When you go to the doctor, be sure to have a clear understanding of your patient rights, your treatment options, and how any prescriptions or testing could harm your health.

Many industry professionals in Connecticut and nationwide are recommending doctors take a more conservative approach to minimize any dangers caused by overtreatment.

There are many reasons that doctors overuse medical reasons, including financial incentives that reward them for doing more, not less. Asking key questions could save you money and prevent medical risks. Here are five questions to ask your doctors if you are facing treatment for a medical condition

What are my options? You should have a clear understanding of all of your treatment options before making a final decision.

What are the risks and benefits of each option? Make sure that your doctor takes the time to explain all of the risks and benefits of each option. This should give you an idea of the side effects and any recovery you will face.

What happens if we wait or do nothing? Sometimes waiting to act is okay. If immediate action is necessary, your doctor should explain why.

What does this test measure? While medical testing and treatment can be complicated, you should also have a basic understanding of what each test is intended to accomplish. You will also want to know how the test results will aid in treating your condition.

Who will contact me about the results and what happens if they are abnormal? Knowing this information will prevent unnecessary testing and help you be connected with the professionals in control the results.

The medical profession is complicated, and even though many doctors are looking out for the best interests of their patients, it is easy to get lost in the shuffle. Being in control of your treatment can help you prevent malpractice and error.

Source: Times Union, "5 questions you should ask to avoid overtreatment," May 4, 2012.

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