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Stemming the tide of overtreatment in U.S. healthcare

Thursday, February 16, 2012

(Reuters) - A leading group of U.S. doctors is trying to tackle the costly problem of excessive medical testing, hoping to avoid more government intervention in how they practice.

The American College of Physicians (ACP), the largest U.S. medical specialty group, is rolling out guidelines to help doctors better identify when patients should screen for specific diseases and when they can be spared the cost, and potentially invasive procedures that follow.

Many individual U.S. medical centers have launched their own efforts to build a protocol of patient care in fields such as diabetes or obstetrics, but the ACP effort has the potential to influence doctors nationally. ACP members include more than 132,000 physicians, mainly focused on internal medicine.

"Excessive testing costs $200 billion to $250 billion (per year)," Dr. Steven Weinberger, CEO of ACP said in an interview from his office in Philadelphia. "There's an overuse of imaging studies, CT scans for lung disease, overuse of routine electrocardiograms and other cardiac tests such as stress testing."

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