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New research shows $6.7 billion spent on unnecessary tests and treatments in one year
Date:10/3/2011

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 tha
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Contact: Mount Sinai Press Office
newsmedia@mssm.edu
212-241-9200
The Mount Sinai Hospital / Mount Sinai School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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