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Complications of unnecessary medical tests may be hard to swallow

Although many readers in Greenville may assume that nearly all medical malpractice cases involve a doctor's failure to take necessary action, a battery of recent reports have revealed the dangers of doctors providing too much treatment. Researchers from the American College of Physicians suggest that a common test for acid reflux is overused and may have unintended side effects.

When patients visit their doctor with symptoms of acid reflux -- a condition about 40 percent American adults have -- they may receive an upper endoscopy to look for signs of long-term damage. Although using scopes in this situation can be effective in catching esophageal cancer, physicians warn that it shouldn't be performed unless absolutely necessary.

The recently released study shows that using scopes in the esophagus can cause "bleeding, tissue infection, and tears in the gastrointestinal tract." Because of this determination, the study suggests that only in cases where patients are exhibiting bleeding, difficulty swallowing or anemia due to acid reflux.

Currently, a majority of those who receive this test do not need it. Furthermore, the study also indicated that medical providers should be especially cautious about performing upper endoscopies on patients under the age of 50. Because the risk of esophageal cancer is relatively low among younger people, the risk of unintended consequences may outweigh the benefit of conducting the test.

Since acid reflux is a very common condition, it is likely to affect thousands of people in North Carolina. As these individuals seek care, it is important for their doctors to pursue testing and treatment thoughtfully and judiciously.

Source: CBS News, "Most heartburn patients can skip upper endoscopy, guidelines say," Ryan Janslow, Dec. 4, 2012

  • Determining whether doctor or hospital errors led to a medical condition can be a confusing and scary process. To learn more, please see our Raleigh medical malpractice page.

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