Stress Imaging Tests, Chest X-Rays Among 5 Tests That Might Be Unnecessary

Monday, April 9th, 2012
This post was written by Cheryl Miller

Maybe you should think twice before agreeing to that MRI, according to a new campaign underway to identify specific medical tests or procedures that are commonly used but not always necessary. As explained in ABIM Foundation’s Choosing Wisely campaign, brain imaging scans like CTs or MRIs aren’t always necessary for patients after fainting if no other seizures or neurologic symptoms are evident. Nine leading physician groups representing nearly 375,000 physicians have created lists of “Five Things Physicians and Patients Should Question” for areas including cardiology, radiology, oncology and gastroenterology, among others. Details in this issue.

The good news: 2011 saw the launch of a record-breaking number of disease treatment drug options, for everything from cancer to multiple sclerosis to CV disease. More orphan drugs, which treat rare diseases affecting less than 200,000 people, were also launched in the past 10 years.

The bad news: Americans continued to ration their healthcare, using less prescription drugs and visiting the doctor less frequently, a trend researchers say has been in effect since 2009, with the onset of the recession. The only group to increase its prescription drug use were those ages 19 to 25 who were able to remain on their parents’ healthcare plans.

Some of those young adults were also responsible for a surprising statistic: an increase in ED use. The surge in newly insured adults has led to a surge in visits to the ER.

According to data from University of Colorado School of Medicine, many are using the ER as a default option when their primary care office is closed, or co-payments are too high. And with an estimated 32 million adults, the majority of them Medicaid patients, expected to receive insurance with healthcare reform, this could cause problems for the effectiveness of EDs overall.

These stories and more in this week’s issue of the the Healthcare Business Weekly Update.

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