CT scans, X-rays, MRIs, ultrasounds -- you name it, people are getting them far more often than necessary, leading to extra stress and excess treatments.

And in the case of those CT scans and X-rays, patients are being dosed with high levels of radiation for no reason at all.

Well, docs now say they've noticed all this too -- and they've come up with a novel justification for it: The patients are making them do it!

It's as if a patient might walk in with a gun and say, "doc, I have a headache -- give me a brain scan and give it to me right now… OR ELSE."

Obviously, that's not happening… but a new survey finds that many doctors are basically afraid of their own patients -- and that's why they're ordering up all those tests.

Researchers say their survey of 627 family physicians and internists finds that 42 percent believe their patients are getting too much medical care -- but say they have to go along with it… because 80 percent believe they'll be sued if they don't test the hell out of their patients.

They have a point, to a certain extent. Many patients do walk in demanding meds, tests or both.

But whatever happened to "just say no?"

I think I know what happened to it, and it has nothing to do with lawsuits: "No" vanished when docs realized they could buy their own testing equipment and double-dip on their patients, collecting fees and co-pays for the office visit as well as the extra bucks for all those unnecessary tests.

Some of them even admit it -- three percent of the doctors who took the survey said money influenced their decisions to order up all those extra tests.

I'm sure the real number is much higher, and many of the docs in the survey even admitted that as well… sort of: Thirty-nine percent say OTHER doctors would cut back on those tests and scans if they didn't stand to gain extra money from them.

In other words, "I'm honest -- but those other guys are crooks."

No wonder the healthcare system is a wreck.