Hospital doctors have drawn up a list of 1,366 treatments which do not benefit patients and are not scientifically proven, the Volkskrant said on Friday.
Around one-third of the treatments which have little positive effect concern diagnostic techniques and four in 10 are to do with medication, the paper said.
Doctors are trained to treat people, not wait and see, research leader Tijn Kool told the paper. ‘They carry out treatment because that is what they were trained to do or because other colleagues do this. And don’t forget, patients can sometimes demand research.’
For example, patients with stomach complaints are routinely given endoscopies, even though the practice is usually only beneficial to the over-60s, Erasmus teaching hospital chairman Ernst Kuipers said.
An endoscopy costs around €300, bringing the bill to €600m a year. Kuipers estimates around one third of the procedures are a waste of time and says stopping them would save €20m. ‘We would also stop putting patients through an uncomfortable process and free up doctors for other tasks,’ he said.’
The total healthcare bill reached €95bn last year, a rise of 40% on 10 years ago.
The eight Dutch teaching hospitals were commissioned to look into ways of keep care affordable by health minister Edith Schippers three years ago.
Over the next few months, doctors are going to look into the effect reducing the use of eight different procedures and treatments. For example, they will attempt to find out if catheters, often a source of infection, can be removed more quickly.
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