Newsweek has a very provocative and yet incredibly too simplistic piece for the public and patients on its cover story – One Word Can Save Your Life: No! – New research shows how some common tests and procedures aren’t just expensive, but can do more harm than good.
The piece is actually well written and highlights facts that have been apparent for some time. More intervention and treatment isn’t necessarily better. Having a cardiac catheterization or open heart surgery for patients with stable heart disease and mild chest pain isn’t better than diet, exercise, and the prescription medication treatment. PSA, the blood test previously suggested by many professional organizations, isn’t helpful to screen for prostate cancer, even though the value of the test was questioned years ago. Antibiotics for sinus infection? Usually not helpful.
Certainly doctors do bear part of the blame. If patients are Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Saving Money and Surviving the Healthcare Crisis*
It’s the hardest thing in the world for a doctor to do.
After all, doctors are do-ers. That is how they have managed to achieve their degrees: hard work, discipline, perseverence. Who else would be willing to memorize all those organic chemistry equations long enough to vomit them back on paper? Who else would tolerate long nights and weekends on a constant basis? But they do it because it’s the right thing to do. They do it because someone has to. People don’t get sick nine to five. They get sick at 2 am. And so, by it’s very nature over the years, medical education becomes a sort of natural selection: only the strong survive.
Historically, doctors endure the system because they know that there are rewards for this hard work personally, professionally, socially, and financially. So throughout their training, doctors learn to perfect the art of doing. That’s what people come to expect. Oh my God, doctor, he’s choking: do something! He’s turning blue: do something! But he fainted, doctor! Do something!
One of the best parts of medical school is learning the answers to these mysteries of medicine and how to fix them. In the past, this gave doctors an aura of deity: they could be trusted to fix just about any ailment that befell man. It was awesome. With time, a sense of invincibility and omnipotence set in.
And like flies to a flame, we bought it. Lock. Stock. Barrel.
In fact, Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Dr. Wes*
Those who market heart scan services should be more careful about what they promote and to whom.
When ProPublica’s Marshall Allen got a telemarketing offer for heart scans for him and his wife, he followed up with a story, “Body Imaging Business Pushes Scans Many Don’t Need – Including Me.”
Reminding Allen about the deaths of figure skater Sergei Grinkov, baseball player Darryl Kile, newsman Tim Russert and actor Patrick Swayze, the salesman said:
“You never know when it could happen. … Boom, you’re dead!” he exclaimed, slapping a desk for emphasis.
But Allen tells another story – of complaints by patients and regulators about the business. Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Gary Schwitzer's HealthNewsReview Blog*
Physicians don’t make money from the tests, prescriptions, procedures and admissions they order, according to a new survey by the staffing and technology company Jackson Healthcare. At most, 6.2% of physicians’ total compensation comes from the doctor’s orders, the survey reported.
Direct income from medical orders comprised:
–0.5% from charges from prescriptions,
–1.0% from charges from lab tests,
–1.1% from charges associated with hospital admission,
–1.3% from charges associated with facility fees for surgeries, and
–2.3% from charges from diagnostic imaging.
The survey of 1,512 physicians challenged claims that physicians won’t stop practicing defensive medicine because they profit from their medical orders, the company stated in a press release.
“Many outside the industry believe that physicians make a lot of money on the tests, prescriptions, procedures and admissions they order,” said Richard Jackson, chairman and CEO of Jackson Healthcare. “The reality is that most (82%) do not make any money from their orders. For the remaining that do, it constitutes a fraction of their total compensation.” Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*
Abdominal pain is the bane of many emergency physicians. Recently, I wrote how CT scans are on the rise in the ER. Much of those scans look for potential causes of abdominal pain.
In an essay from Time, Dr. Zachary Meisel discusses why abdominal pain, in his words, is the doctor’s “booby prize.” And when you consider that there are 7 million visits annually by people who report abdominal pain, that’s a lot of proverbial prizes.
One reason is the myriad of causes that lead bring a patient to the hospital clutching his abdomen. It can range from something as relatively benign as viral gastroenteritis where a patient be safely discharged home, to any number of “acute” abdominal problems necessitating surgery.
But more importantly, we need to consider how limited doctors actually are in the ER. Consider the ubiquitous CT scan, which is being ordered with increasing regularity:
The pros: CT scans are readily available, able to look at every organ in the abdomen and pelvis, and very good for ruling out many of the immediately life-threatening causes of belly pain. CT scans can also reduce the need for exploratory surgery. The cons: Often, CTs can’t diagnose the actual cause of ER patients’ abdominal pain. Worse, CTs deliver significant doses of radiation to a patient’s abdomen and pelvis (equivalent to between 100 and 250 chest X-rays). Over a lifetime, patients who receive two or three abdominal CT scans are exposed to more radiation than many Hiroshima survivors.
Add that to the fact that patients expect a definitive diagnosis when visiting the hospital — one that doctors can’t always give when it comes to abdominal pain. Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at KevinMD.com*