Overdiagnosis and overtreatment are medical terms. They refer to two unwarranted and unneeded practices in medicine, today.
Overdiagnosis is the diagnosis of disease that will not cause symptoms or death in the lifetime of a person. Overdiagnosis is a side effect of testing for early forms of disease that may turn a person into a patient unnecessarily. Overdiagnosis may lead to treatments that do no good but may cause harm.
Overdiagnosis takes place when a disease is correctly diagnosed, but the diagnosis is irrelevant. This is true when treatment for that disease is not available, not needed or not wanted.
Overdiagnosis is not the same thing as misdiagnosis. Misdiagnosis is when something is mistakenly diagnosed.
Medical procedures or medications
Overtreatment is usually used in reference to the prescribing of medical procedures or medications that may not be needed for the treatment of an injury, disease or illness. People who take an excessive amount of medication, either over the counter or by prescription, and people who undergo nonessential surgery or who are exposed to excessive radiation and X-rays, may be running the risk of receiving overtreatment.
Overtreatment may take place in both traditional western medicine or holistic medicine. However, some people believe that the standards for overtreatment are subjective due to the fact that the degree of treatment that is needed for an ailment varies from one person to another.
Overdiagnosis often leads to overtreatment. The two often go hand in hand.
More harm than good
It has been suggested that overtreatment may do more harm than good for a person, especially when they undergo certain procedures. Some medical experts theorize that an example of this is when a person undergoes a nonessential or exploratory surgical procedure. In addition there is the concern that when a person undergoes nonessential or exploratory surgery, there may be resulting complications that affect the person for the rest of their life.
Overtreatment may bring about side effects in some people. These side effects include headaches, fatigue, loss of muscle control or gastrointestinal upset. In addition to this, long-term use of certain medications may also result in psychological disturbances. Suicidal tendencies or depression are two of these possible side effects. However, some people have found that when they lower a dosage of medicine, this may lower undesired side effects.
Nonessential tests and procedures
Overtreatment may also be used in connection with tests that are nonessential. For example, there are laboratory procedures that expose a person to radiation. One of these is a Computerized Tomography (CT scan). It is a scan that emits low levels of radiation that may pose a potential health risk for a person. An excessive amount of X-rays can also be an example of overtreatment that poses as a potential health risk.
The overuse of antibiotics is another concern as some claim that it results in the formation of resistant strains of bacteria. Some claim that prescribing antibiotics for repeated and casual use is another example of overtreatment. In addition, side effects resulting from overtreatment of antibiotics include vomiting or nausea.
If you believe that you have been a victim of overdiagnosis or overtreatment, it would be a good idea to contact a personal injury attorney and discuss your case with him or her.