Tuesday, October 30, 2007

ConsumerReports.org - Medical ripoffs, 10 overused tests and treatments

ConsumerReports.org - Medical ripoffs, 10 overused tests and treatments: " 1 BACK SURGERY. Don't rush to surgery for a simple slipped disk. In 90 percent of cases, the pain goes away on its own within six weeks. In stubborn cases, surgery, which can cost $20,000 plus physician's fees, can relieve pain somewhat faster than physical therapy and medication, a recent study showed. But it also found that both groups of patients wound up with similar improvements after two years. 2 HEARTBURN SURGERY. Doctors surgically tighten a sphincter muscle that blocks stomach acid from backing up into the esophagus. But research shows the operation, which costs $14,600 or more, provides no better long-term relief than taking a proton-pump-inhibitor drug such as omeprazole (Prilosec OTC), which costs less than $1 a day. 3 PROSTATE TREATMENTS. Prostate cancer is often overtreated by surgery that costs $17,000, or by radiation therapy for $20,700 or more, plus physician's fees, without adequate discussion of the alternatives or the high risk of distressing side effects such as incontinence or impotence. Because prostate cancer can grow slowly, sometimes the best approach is 'watchful waiting.'

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