Some doctors trying to reduce expenses

The letter writer calling on President Obama to use executive power to enact medical liability tort reform, "Use executive power to pursue tort reform," (Feb. 21), got some of his facts wrong and some right. There is little solid evidence supporting the notion that physicians practice defensive medicine by ordering unnecessary tests in order to protect themselves from malpractice claims. If such practices do exist, they account for only a small fraction of health care spending.

But what the writer did get right is that about 30 percent of our total health care spending is wasteful and much of that is driven by doctors ordering tests, performing procedures, or prescribing drugs that are unnecessary and, often times, harmful.

Fortunately, the medical profession has recently come to realize that it must take steps to eliminate waste, protect patients from the wrong care, and reduce costs. Over 60 medical societies have joined the Choosing Wisely campaign, listing the "top five" things in their respective specialties that doctors should not do.

Consumer Reports has joined the Choosing Wisely campaign and offers free access to patients of easy-to-read reports on these recommendations. (

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