Friday, June 17, 2011

Another "what's wrong with our healthcare system" story

Double CT scans:
Performing two scans in succession is rarely necessary, radiologists say, yet some hospitals were doing that more than 80 percent of the time for their Medicare chest patients, according to Medicare outpatient claims from 2008, the most recent year available....

In 2008, about 75,000 patients received double scans, one using iodine contrast to check blood flow, and one that did not. “If you do both, you bill for both,” Dr. Pentecost said.

Radiologists say one scan or the other is needed depending on the patient’s condition, but rarely both. Double scanning is also common among privately insured patients who tend to be younger.

Double scans expose patients to extra radiation while heaping millions of dollars in extra costs on an already overburdened Medicare program. A single CT scan of the chest is equal to about 350 standard chest X-rays, so two scans are twice that amount
The New York Times has an ongoing series of investigative reports about the overuse and misuse of radiation for medical purposes in America.

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