Testing, testing… When is it enough? When is it too much? When are you not sure? Then what?

Dr Gary
By Dr GaryCA Latest Reply 2012-05-02 21:43:55 -0500
Started 2012-04-30 22:28:14 -0500

Medical science has developed many amazing tests that provide a means for physicians to diagnose with incredible accuracy. I have often been thankful that a test was available, in my own life or in the lives of the people I care about, as I am sure you have, too.

But nothing is perfect. Tests can be invasive, uncomfortable and time-consuming. If copays are required or, worse yet, if they are not covered, then tests can be expensive. And some tests, like those involving radiation, need to be used cautiously and sparingly.

I hear a lot about medical tests. My counseling clients tell me that they hear or read about tests and then want their doctors to give them that test. Their doctors may or may not agree. I also hear about situations in which clients feel they are being given too many tests, and don’t see a reason for some of them. Or, they may be seeing different doctors to get an answer, and each doctor is requiring the same test, yet they don’t want the results from the last doctor. So the patient gets the same test over and over.

But how do you know when a test is enough or when it is too much?

I often hear about situations in which patients are given the choice of whether they want to have a test or not. A decision patients don’t always feel very comfortable making. In other words, it’s nice to feel empowered, but at what point do you feel like you are being asked to make a decision about a medical test that you don’t feel comfortable making? On the other hand, at what point do you decide that you don’t want a test? And do you feel comfortable with that decision, or in bringing it up with your doctor?

I am interested in knowing your perspective on medical tests. Good experiences, bad experiences, and those times when you weren’t sure if you should be tested or not.

And, what do you need from your healthcare team where medical tests are involved? What could they do to communicate better about testing?

2 replies

TsalagiLenape 2012-05-01 06:33:13 -0500 Report

I would rather know all the facts regarding the tests the doctors want to do. I want to understand how this test is going to help me or show me a problem caused by Diabetes. How it can be treated if possible. As far as co-pays and etc I dont have that anymore. I have finally gotten medical for now. Yet things like that does come into play when you have a co-pay. So is the cost of the test going to be worth taking the test would be my next question. Or is it something that I can do without? Its a choice on what the test is for and cost effective being balanced.
What healthcare team are you talking about? I am the one doing their job. If the doctors of mine communicated better I wouldnt being their job. Yet if they were all on the same page and with the same knowledge it would benefit all the patients the doctors have.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2012-05-02 21:43:55 -0500 Report


Thanks a lot for replying to my post.

You bring up some really good points here. If you are paying for it, you want to know if it is worthwhile. And I understand your frustration about multiple doctors not talking to each other. It places a lot of responsibility on the patient.

I hope that you are having a good week!