I have been skeptical of the emphasis placed on testing since the pandemic started. Now, we are simply testing too many people. People are being tested often for political reasons, as testing a lot of people you have no reason to believe are infected creates the illusion of a low infection rate.
But the real problem is that SOME patients can benefit from being tested, and the deluge of needless tests is causing their results to be delayed until they are no longer useful.
This is not a new problem. When I treated patients with severe dental infections, the “standard of care” was to do a ‘gram stain’ and a ‘culture and sensitivity test’ to determine which antibiotics were appropriate. The tests took 4 to 5 days, cost even then $300 to $400 dollars to the patient, and were utterly useless since dental infections are almost always mixed cultures. But, if I didn’t run them, and things went bad, I could be successfully sued. Of course, I couldn’t leave a patient in agony for 5 days waiting on the test, so I treated with a broad spectrum penicillin, and if there wasn’t rapid improvement, switch them to Clindamycin, invariably, the infection would have been dealt with before the useless results came back. But to protect myself from lawyers, I used to run the tests anyway, until I realized that if I got the patient to refuse the test I was covered. But it still wasted a lot of my time explaining that to the patient, who just wanted the pain to stop.
The point being that the ONLY legitimate reason to run a test at the patient’s expense is if it is useful in the patient’s treatment. If a test is to be run for gather epidemiologic data gathering, it should be at the government’s expense and processed at a lower priority than tests being run to guide treatment.
We just can’t mix the needed tests with data gathering testing.