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

n $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.


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