Like this article?
Get your free daily medical news from Physician's First Watch.
Unnecessary Repeat Testing in Medicare Patients Shows Regional Practice Variation
Retesting of Medicare patients at intervals that are shorter than expected shows wide variation across the U.S., according to a study in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
Researchers followed some 750,000 Medicare beneficiaries for 3 years after an index test for cystoscopy, upper endoscopy, chest CT, pulmonary function, echocardiography, or stress testing with imaging. During that time, for example, half the pulmonary function tests were repeated, as were over a third of the upper endoscopies.
Regionally, echocardiography was performed on almost half the Medicare sample in Miami, Florida, versus 18% in Portland, Oregon. Those tests were repeated within 3 years two thirds of the time in Miami and about half the time in Portland.
Commentators grant that repeated testing is sometimes justifiable, but that repetition because of patient demand, malpractice worries, and profitability is not. They call for "faster retirement of fee-for-service incentives."
Archives of Internal Medicine article (Free abstract)
Archives of Internal Medicine invited commentary (Subscription required)
Published in Physician's First Watch November 20, 2012
To ensure that your Reader Remark is not formatted as one long paragraph, precede new paragraphs with either a blank line or an indentation.