“Slow medicine” advocates warn about overused medical tests

Young female doctor consulting with a older male patient

We’ve all seen advertising for genetic testing services, offering insight into your ancestry as well as health based on your genetic code. But Drs. Michael Hochman and Pieter Cohen warn that genetic tests offered directly to consumers without input from a physician or geneticist can be problematic. They note that genetic tests for BRCA mutations (which may predispose the individual to breast cancer) are likely to include false positives, and a negative finding may lead to less reliance on medical advice.

In an article in Medpage Today, they also warn about overuse of dialysis in elderly patients, screening for peripheral artery disease, and surveillance testing after colon cancer.

The physicians are advocates of “slow medicine,” which promotes a thoughtful, evidence-based approach to clinical care, emphasizing careful clinical reasoning and patient-focused care. They cite research published in the JAMA Internal Medicine’s “Less is More” series, which highlights overused medical tests, treatments, and procedures.

For more information, see our page on evidence-based medicine.