04/03/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Medical Examinations: Do No Harm, Only What Is Necessary

This is a recurring theme in my blogs, but one that can never be emphasized enough. Medical examinations and interventions need to be judged on value, not only cost. They must be performed and interpreted by experts who have been trained to conduct and examine the specific medical examination or study. All examinations need to be performed and interpreted with the patient in mind and without bias toward additional "unnecessary" utilization of "available and convenient" resources that benefit the bottom line of the practice more than the patient's outcome.

Patients deserve competency when it comes to their healthcare providers and the best possible state-of-the-art equipment for testing and delivery of treatment options. The level of expertise and competency I refer to is achieved when trained professionals perform tests and/or procedures using the best possible technologies. The goal of diagnosis and treatment should be to prevent further progression of conditions and optimally ensure the earliest possible diagnosis that provides for the best possible patient outcome.

Unfortunately, both the expertise and the equipment is expensive. However, achieving an early diagnosis is cheaper in the long run. Patients treated early on in the disease process or following a traumatic event require less downtime away from their occupation or life activities. The recovery is often faster and easier as the patient is usually "healthier" earlier on in the progression of a condition.

I can not overemphasize that patients need to be educated consumers and the delivery of healthcare needs to focus on the patient. Patients deserve valid accurate information and must have confidence in the system and in their healthcare providers. The paramount consideration for providing health care should be "first, do no harm" and "second, only do what is necessary."