Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

$6.7 billion spent on unnecessary tests and treatments in U.S. in one year

Date:
October 4, 2011
Source:
The Mount Sinai Hospital / Mount Sinai School of Medicine
Summary:
Researchers have found that $6.7 billion was spent in one year performing unnecessary tests or prescribing unnecessary medications in primary care, with 86 percent of that cost attributed to the prescription of brand-name statins to treat high cholesterol.

Researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine have found that $6.7 billion was spent in one year performing unnecessary tests or prescribing unnecessary medications in primary care, with 86 percent of that cost attributed to the prescription of brand-name statins to treat high cholesterol. The findings are published in a research letter in the October 1 Online First issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Led by Minal Kale, MD, a postdoctoral fellow in the Division of Internal Medicine in the Department of Medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, the research team reviewed findings from a study published in the May 2011 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, which identified the top five most overused clinical activities in each of three primary care specialties: pediatrics, internal medicine, and family medicine. With this information, they performed a cross-sectional analysis of separate data that were pulled from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey and the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey. They found more than $6.7 billion was spent in excess healthcare spending in the primary care setting in 2009. Eighty-six percent, or more than $5.8 billion of the unnecessary spending, resulted from the prescribing of brand-name statins rather than generic versions.

"Our analysis shows astronomical costs associated with prescribing of brand name statins when effective, generic alternatives were available. Efforts to encourage prescribing of generics clearly have not gone far enough," said Dr. Kale. "Additionally, millions are spent on unnecessary blood work, scans, and antibiotic prescriptions. Significant efforts to reduce this spending are required in order to stem these exorbitant activities."

The remaining costs were attributable to the following:

  • During physical exams, more than half of complete blood work ordered was not needed, resulting in more than $32 million in excess costs.
  • Unnecessary bone density scans in younger women accounted for more than $527 million.
  • CT scans, MRIs, or X-Rays in people presenting with back pain accounted for $175 million in excess healthcare costs.
  • Over-prescription of antibiotics for sore throat in children, excluding cases of strep throat or fever, accounted for $116 million in unnecessary costs.
  • Other excess costs included needless annual echocardiograms, urine testing, pap tests, and pediatric cough medicine prescriptions.

"We found considerable variability in the frequency of inappropriate care, however our data show that even activities with small individual costs can contribute substantially to overall healthcare costs," said Dr. Kale. "In light of the current healthcare reform debate, we need more research examining how overuse contributes to healthcare spending. Research might focus on the potential role of reimbursement, defensive medicine practices, or lack of adherence to guidelines."

The authors note that the analysis is limited to the data provided by the surveys and that they were conservative in their assessments. They conclude that this type of analysis should be extended to medical specialties outside of primary care and that physicians should make efforts in their own practices to evaluate costs and reduce them where necessary in order to achieve affordable, high-quality care.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by The Mount Sinai Hospital / Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

The Mount Sinai Hospital / Mount Sinai School of Medicine. "$6.7 billion spent on unnecessary tests and treatments in U.S. in one year." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 October 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111003144716.htm>.
The Mount Sinai Hospital / Mount Sinai School of Medicine. (2011, October 4). $6.7 billion spent on unnecessary tests and treatments in U.S. in one year. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111003144716.htm
The Mount Sinai Hospital / Mount Sinai School of Medicine. "$6.7 billion spent on unnecessary tests and treatments in U.S. in one year." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111003144716.htm (accessed July 22, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law

Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law

AP (July 22, 2014) Two federal appeals courts issued conflicting rulings Tuesday on the legality of the federally-run healthcare exchange that operates in 36 states. (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Why Do People Believe We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains?

Why Do People Believe We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains?

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The new sci-fi thriller "Lucy" is making people question whether we really use all our brainpower. But, as scientists have insisted for years, we do. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Find New Way To Make Human Platelets

Scientists Find New Way To Make Human Platelets

Newsy (July 22, 2014) Boston scientists have discovered a new way to create fully functioning human platelets using a bioreactor and human stem cells. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Gilead's $1000-a-Pill Drug Could Cure Hep C in HIV-Positive People

Gilead's $1000-a-Pill Drug Could Cure Hep C in HIV-Positive People

TheStreet (July 21, 2014) New research shows Gilead Science's drug Sovaldi helps in curing hepatitis C in those who suffer from HIV. In a medical study, the combination of Gilead's Hep C drug with anti-viral drug Ribavirin cured 76% of HIV-positive patients suffering from the most common hepatitis C strain. Hepatitis C and related complications have been a top cause of death in HIV-positive patients. Typical medication used to treat the disease, including interferon proteins, tended to react badly with HIV drugs. However, Sovaldi's %1,000-a-pill price tag could limit the number of patients able to access the treatment. TheStreet's Keris Lahiff reports from New York. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins