By Dr. Brian McDonough

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – In our medical world we have dozens of tests that we can order at any time. This is a great weapon in patient care but it can also be a problem.

There is a very delicate balance between ordering a test that’s good for the patient and ordering unnecessary tests that can be inconvenient to the patient and costly. In the worst-case scenario doctors order tests in what we call a shotgun approach, reaching out for a decision. The test should be used as a tool that helps us make a more informed decision but we need to have an idea what we’re looking for before we order the test. This is when the test can be most helpful.

There is another issue as well. Sometimes doctors order tests because they are afraid if they don’t order the test they may put themselves in a position where they could be sued for not doing it.

Think about it. If we ordered an MRI every time someone had a headache, the cost would go through the roof. I’m a big believer that doctors and patients need to work together to decide if tests are necessary and when they should be ordered. This does not provide all the answers but it certainly helps.

Reported By Dr. Brian McDonough, KYW Newsradio Medical Editor

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