Unnecessary Medicine, An Issue With Major Ethical Implications

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The authors discuss an important chapter of iatrogenic pathology – unneccessary medicine, by reviewing epidemiological aspects and financial impact and identifying such elements in no less than 10 areas: surgery, interventional medicine, diagnostic investigation, substitute procedures, preventive medicine, drug therapy, aesthetic shared medical appointments, surgery, unconventional medicine, medicine on political demand. We shall review the causes, motives and mechanisms of unnecessary medicine such as one’s hyperprudence to cover oneself with diagnosis arguments or to prevent potential complications through preventive therapies (defensive medicine), weak functionality of the institutionalized inspection bodies, onerous motivation. The respect for the fundamental principles of medical ethics (the primum non-nocere principle doubled by the principle of doing good), the use of practice guidelines, the proper functioning self-control mechanisms in exercising the medical profession, a different management of error and the existence of a consistent protective legislation for both the patient and doctor would be key-elements to avoiding unnecessary medicine.

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