(Bloomberg) — Researchers say results of a cancer care provider survey they organized contradict the idea that unreasonable patient demands play a major role in driving up U.S. cancer care costs.
Only 1 percent of cancer patients ask for what health care providers believe to be a clinically inappropriate medical intervention, according to a paper the researchers published Thursday in the Journal of the American Medical Association Oncology.
Suggestions were considered unreasonable when the surveyed doctors ranked them between 1 and 3 on a 10-point scale in which the highest mark represented a request that was the most appropriate.
More than half of American physicians believe that patients have a “major responsibility” to help contain ballooning health-care costs, according a 2013 survey, while only 36 percent of respondents said doctors do. In another survey, more than 90 percent of doctors said they ordered more tests and procedures than necessary because they fear malpractice suits.
Doctors tend to pin the rise in health costs on know-it-all consumers who insist on drugs and services they don’t need, according to Ezekiel Emanuel, the study’s senior author.
“Were my colleagues really right or wrong when they said patients are really driving it?” Emanuel, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, asked in a phone interview. The answer is no, he said.
Still, dealing with patients who inform themselves about their conditions online has changed the usual medical relationship, according to Anthony Back, a cancer specialist at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.