TODAY

TODAY   |  October 21, 2013

When should you tell your doctor no?

If you’re getting medical treatment you feel unnecessary, you may be right. Dr. John Santa of Consumer Reports and practicing internist Dr. Keri Peterson share when it is appropriate to question your doctor’s orders.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> ever been to a doctor's office and thought, do i really need this?

>> although most doctors try to give their patients the best care possible sometimes they describe a test or treatment that's unnecessary. it's bad for your health and wallet as well.

>> what are the questions you should be asking before and after treatment? he is the medical director at consumer reports magazine and carrie peterson is a practicing internist.

>> good morning.

>> sometimes doctors prescribe things unnecessary but is that the result of patients asking for the treatments?

>> first and foremost physicians are trained to do things a certain way and it can be a hard has be habit to break and if a patient comes in insisting on a certain test. for example, i want an antibiotic for my cold, it can be hard to change their mind and i often find for myself i don't want to miss anything. i want to cover myself and make sure that the patient, that i can cover all basis and make sure that i don't miss anything.

>> could a doctor be, i hate to say this, prescribing something to help his bottom line .

>> we're concerned that the business of medicine is interfering. doctors and patients are overwhelmed with ads and promotions about health stuff and in many situations doctors are paid more the more they do and that's a concern.

>> how do you get the confidence to contradict a doctor. this is somebody that went to medical school . i didn't pass high school biology. how do i know that i know better than the doctor.

>> the first thing is you need to either be able to say no or ask certain questions head on and we came up with a few questions. one of which is do i really need this? ask your physician. put them on the line and they should be able to answer you honestly and directly. do i actually need this? ask them, is this safe? are there safer options? that way they'll give you the risk involved and tell you if there's a chance of false positives or any side effects . and also you can ask them, what if i do nothing? what if i just wait it out. are there lifestyle changes i can make. then the physician will give you lifestyle changes or kuwait it out and see if you get better.

>> and cost as well because sometimes it may not be covered by insurance.

>> more and more we'll be responsible for the cost of the health care we get. we need to know up front.

>> antibiotics for something like a sinus infection .

>> that's important. sometimes patients come in with a respiratory infection wanting an antibiotic and the majority of the time its viral. you to put your foot down because there are side effects .

>> how about this. headaches?

>> most headaches can be sorted out with questions and answers . a good doctor can figure out what's going on with most headaches. you don't need imaging that could expose you to radiation and harm you.

>> what about x-rays or ct scans with a bad back?

>> most back pain can get better on its own. if you do order an x-ray, for an x-ray of the spine it's 15 times more radiation than a chest x-ray. a ct of the spine is 60 times more radiation than a chest x-ray.

>> what about the full body scans? you've been hearing a lot about those.

>> lot of advertising promotion. it's a fools errand . to just go on a journey and radiate everything is exposing patients to radiation they don't need.

>> is that a red flag when you start seeing ads on billboards, people touting this thing. be wary. you should be wary in health care too.