Are prescribed medical tests and screenings as effective as they should be?

When it comes to medical test and screening prescribed by your doctors, are they as effective as they should be?

We've found out many doctors are say, sometimes, less is more.   We're Taking Action for Your Health with the questions to ask your doctor, the screenings you should get and the ones to avoid.

"My mom started getting repeated sinus infections," said Christine Martini.

6 to 8 months of antibiotics didn't cure Martini's 72-year-old mom.

"After she received so many antibiotics, she ended up being in a far worse situation," Martin recalled.

Christine's mom ended up with a massive fungus in her sinuses. Doctors determined it was C. Diff, an often fatal infection.

"Unfortunately, antibiotics are not benign things," said Dr. Donald Ford with the Cleveland Clinic.

The anti-biotic issue is one of many concerns you need to talk to your doctors about.

"I can order a whole bunch of tests. I can go down the list and check off every single thing. Is that going to be good for you? Is that going to help me get to the heart of what's going on with you?" Dr. Ford said.

With the help of consumer reports, ABC Action News came with a list of questions you need to ask your doctor before undergoing tests or screenings:

They include: 

What are you looking for?

What is the test likely to show?

What if it's positive?

What are my options?

Can we put this off? 

Dr. John Santa, Medical Director for Consumer Reports, said everything from imaging tests on back pain after a fall to ovarian cancer tests may not beneficial.

"We know 90 percent of the time people will be better in 4 to 6 weeks without doing much of anything," Santa said.

"Sad to say that the blood test and the ultra sound for ovarian cancer, not a good screening test.  Sorry.  We all wish that we had a good screening test for ovarian cancer.  We don't," said Santa.

Santa said when it comes to heart disease without major symptoms, the chances of those heart tests showing anything that's significant are very low.  In fact, it's less than if they have a false positive," Santa said.

Sometimes the tests that are ordered, but shouldn't be.

"Unfortunately, some consumers and some physicians believe that any screening test must be good.  And it's quite simply not"

But legal experts say caution is needed.

"Don't off-load the risk onto the patient," said Attorney Tom Merriman.

He said no one should be against the elimination of unneeded tests.  But, as a patient you should examine who's behind those recommendations.

Are insurance components involved?

"If the doctors are saying ‘that's an unnecessary test, I'm all in.' But, let's just make sure that the people who are making these decisions are not people who are making it based upon their own bottom line."

Consumer Reports says these are three tests you or loved ones should get:

Cervical cancer, colon cancer and breast cancer.

After being prescribed all of her medications and having surgery, Christine's mom is doing fine.

The main thing they've learned is to have an educated conversation with your doctor and don't be afraid of asking questions.

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