Those Unnecessary “Little” Tests

More often than not primary care offices will add routine “little” tests and practices that add up when multiplied across the US healthcare system.  A recent article in the Archive of Internal Medicine journal stated that such typical, but not useful, screening tests and procedures done within health maintenance examinations add up to $5 billion/year!

Here are examples of tests and practices that if eliminated could put this money back into the health care system:

* Treating viral pharyngitis (sore throat caused from a virus instead of bacteria such as Strep) with antibiotics. (41% of visits) $116.3 million

*  Prescribing brand name statins (medication to treat elevated cholesterol) instead of generic.  (34.6% of visits)

*  Ordering routine complete blood count (CBC) in adults.  (56% of visits) $32.7 million

*  Ordering Basic Metabolic Panel (BMP) in adults (16% of visits) $10.1 million

*  Annual electrocardiogram (EKG) (19% of visits)  $16.6 million

*  Urinalysis (UA) (18% of visits)  $3.4 million

*  Cough medicines for children (12% of visits)  $10.3 million

*  Papanicolaou tests (PAP) for patients younger than 21 years (2.9% visits) $47.7 million

*  DEXA scans (bone density scans) for women younger than 64 years (1.4% of visits) $527.4 million

(Allen F. Shaughnessy, PharmD, Professor of Family Medicine, Tufts University, Boston, MA)

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