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Old doctor joke that is always relavent, at least when assessing American doctors (not nearly as true in Canada, I hasten to add).

One surgeon to second surgeon: So what did the patient have?

2nd surgeon: $1000.

1st surgeon: No, I meant for what did you operate?

2nd surgeon: I told you. $1000.

I bring this up because of a recent American study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine concluded that “patients facing relatively simple outpatient surgeries are nonetheless being told to undergo a number of preoperative tests that just aren’t necessary”.

In this study, 1/3 of patients underwent at least two tests, and roughly 1 in 7 patients had three or more tests before their simple surgery, tests that were not needed.

The researchers were, of course, quick to add that they don’t think that American “hospitals are ordering these tests to make a quick buck”, I think that the researchers are being largely disingenuous in that assertion because American hospitals are notorious for milking money from patients in their systems.

And as I said earlier, needless testing done mainly for monetary concerns is far less likely to be the case in Canada because Canadian doctors and hospitals do not gain monetarily from testing, nonetheless needless testing is also much over-done up here based simply on old practices that have not been updated.

Bottom line: Always, always, always ask lots of questions about the tests you’re getting: Why? Why? Why?