Tags: screening | tests | cost | care

Overuse of Screening Tests on the Rise

Wednesday, 29 August 2012 12:23 PM

The use of commercial screening tests, sold directly to consumers without a doctor’s referral or knowledge, is on the rise – inflating healthcare costs, undermining high-quality care, and often leading to unnecessary follow-up tests and medical procedures.
That’s the chief finding of a pair of new reports by a team of consumer-health specialists published this week in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
The increasing availability of direct-to-consumer screening tests – some with unproven benefits – is getting in the way of many doctors' efforts to care for their patients effectively and efficiently, according to the reports, penned by experts with the American College of Physicians University of Oklahoma.
“Purveyors of these services have sprouted up all over the country, selling ‘packages’ of screening tests outside of the traditional physician-patient relationship at ‘discounted’ prices,” the authors noted. “Tests are offered at various locations, including churches, pharmacies, fitness centers, and shopping malls, often with a local hospital, academic medical center, or physician group as an advertising sponsor.”
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Companies that make such tests encourage consumers to discuss "abnormal" results with their physicians, potentially leading to more testing, treatment, or follow up that may not be necessary, the researchers said.
One example: the use of ultrasound tests to identify the condition known as carotid stenosis, which is high among smokers. The researchers noted studies have shown use of the tests is growing, even though those with an abnormal carotid ultrasound are no more likely to quit smoking than those who had a negative ultrasound or did not receive an ultrasound.
In January, the Annals published a list from ACP that identified 37 medical tests – of which 18 are imaging tests – that the organization believes are overused in medical practice.
In a related editorial accompanying the reports, Drs. Vijay Rao and colleague Dr. David C. Levin, from Thomas Jefferson University, argued that eliminating inappropriate imaging studies and other tests and treatments can only improve the practice of healthcare – reducing cost and also radiation risk to patients.
SPECIAL: These 4 Things Happen Right Before a Heart Attack — Read More.

© HealthDay

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Consumer screening tests are inflating health costs, undermining care, and causing needless follow-up procedures.
Wednesday, 29 August 2012 12:23 PM
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