That’s what a new survey of physicians shows. Most believe that doctors order too many medical tests.

Avoiding unnecessary medical care, according to Dr. Richard Baron, president and CEO of the ABIM Foundation (the organization who did the study), is important for a couple of reasons. First, too many tests can be harmful to patients; second, unnecessary care raises health care costs for everyone, he says. 

The survey was part of the ABIM Foundation’s Choosing Wisely initiative, which helps doctors and patients make informed decisions about the most appropriate care based on each patients’ specific situation.

Screening Tests Every Woman Needs

Guidelines from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), a group of non-Federal experts in prevention, recommend the following tests for women between 50-64:

Blood Pressure. Get tested at least every two years if your blood pressure is normal (lower than 120/80); once a year if it’s between 120/80 and 139/89. Discuss treatment with your healthcare provider if your blood pressure is 140/90 or higher. 

Osteoporosis Screening. If you’re at risk for osteoporosis, discuss with your healthcare professional. Risk factors include your sex (women are much more likely than men to develop it), age (the older you get, the greater your risk), race (greatest risk are those who are white or of Asian descent), family history (you’re at greater risk if you have a parent or sibling with it, or a family history of hip fractures) and frame size (small body frames are at greater risk). 

Mammograms. Starting at age 50, every two years. 

Pap Smear. Get a Pap test and HPV test together every five years (if you have a cervix).

Chlamydia. If you’re sexually active and at increased risk, get tested annually. Risk factors include a new sex partner, having more than one sex partner or one who has other sex partners, not using condoms during sex within a relationship that is not mutually monogamous.

Cholesterol. If you’re at an increased risk for heart disease, get tested annually. Risk factors include smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, being overweight or obese and physically inactive.

Colorectal Cancer. Talk to your healthcare provider about which screening test is best. Tests include fecal occult blood testing, sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy. Screening should begin at age 50.

Diabetes Screening. If your blood pressure is higher than 135/80, or you take medicine for high blood pressure, get screened. 

The guidelines also include gonorrhea tests (get tested if you’re sexually active and at increased risk), HIV testing (get tested at least once, or more frequently depending on risk factors) and syphilis (get tested if you’re at increased risk). 

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Sheryl Kraft’s work has appeared in various print and online publications including AARP, Prevention, WebMD, Woman’s Day, Everyday Health,,, Senior Planet, JAMA, Weight Watchers, Bottom Line/Health, Bottom Line/Women’s Health, Caring Today, Westchester Magazine and more. She lives in her empty nest with her husband, Alan, and enjoys weekly Sunday visits from her two hungry 26 and 28-year-old sons (who also occasionally bring a load of laundry). When she's not working, Sheryl enjoys exercising, reading, walking and biking the neighborhood, seeing Broadway shows and spending time with friends. Visit Sheryl's website at or her two blogs, MySoCalledMidlilfe and Midlife Matters.