Skip to comments.Editorial: To cut health costs, doctors, hospitals must end unneeded medical procedures
Posted on 04/08/2012 12:06:47 PM PDT by SmithL
For weeks now, the nation has been riveted by arguments in the U.S. Supreme Court over one provision of the Affordable Care Act. Does the law's requirement that every adult buy health insurance violate the U.S. Constitution?
We think it does not.
Yet even if the court ultimately shares that view, the federal health care reform law will face monumental hurdles to be successfully implemented. The biggest of these is its cost. Can the nation afford to insure all its citizens? If we don't get a handle on rising health care costs the answer to that more important question is an emphatic "no."
And that's what makes last week's announcement by physicians representing nine medical specialties so welcome. The physicians have identified 45 specific medical tests and procedures, five within each specialty, which they think are either overused or misused. They are either unnecessary, lacking benefits to patients or, in some cases, even harmful.
The most commonly overused procedure sited in the report include:
EKGs and other heart screening tests performed on patients with no evidence of risk.
Chest X-rays for patients undergoing outpatient surgery who are otherwise healthy adults with no cardiac symptoms.
CT scans or antibiotics for patients with mild or moderate sinus infections.
Routine cancer screening for dialysis patients, particularly those with limited life expectancies.
Bone scans on women under 65 and men under 70 years of age.
Extensive diagnostic tests for people with allergies.
CT scans and other imaging procedures for simple headaches.
Such tests and procedures rarely benefit patients. Worse, they can cause harm or lead to false positives and over treatment.
(Excerpt) Read more at sacbee.com ...
The threshold for assignment of blame is easy in the minds of jurors. Don't ask physicians to take personal risks which no reasonable person would take. Leave the practice of the art of medicine to those who are capable in that practice. Get the lawyers out of it. Change the laws to what would be reasonable. If we do not we will find ourselves with conscripted physicians who work at the pleasure of beaurocrats who know nothing but accounting lines and moral relativism. It is getting very late to do anything about it.
This should be between people and their doctors, this would never come up if everyone paid their own way.
Exactly, making sure that everyone has health insurance isn’t the solution, eliminating insurance is. Fixing the healthcare problem involves tort reform, having the patient pay his own bills and having doctors quote prices before treatment begins.
“Bone Scans for women under age 65”.....hmmmm...are they talking about the DEXA? If so, that seems contrary to good medical planning.....sheesh. (It’s good to know your bone health in your 40-50’s....so that you can “bulk” up your bones appropriately for later age IMHO.
I guess you don’t understand the principle of free market, do you ? How do you define “massive overcharges” ? Do you have ANY idea what it costs to bring a drug to the market ? At last count, that’s 3 BILLION - yea, with a *B*, and that’s not of gooberment funny money but real money a company needs to get back through sales. Where do you get this idea that they should just provide it to you at whatever price suits you ?
Next thing it’ll be “it’s a right”. Then what? If there aren’t enough doctors they’ll take your kid and say “this one must go to medical school and serve” ? Where does it stop ? Not enough nurses ? Oh we’ll just draft some. That worked out great in the Soviet Union.
Sounds like a polite way to introduce “death panels.”
BTW: All the talk of contraceptives, abortions, erection
aids suggest another solution. Why not vasectomize all
newborn males* and eliminate all the above uterine-prostate
problems. Turn the country back to the Indians.
* Of course all living males need to be clipped.
Probably the best solution all-around would be the following.
1) End Medicare. If older people cannot afford health care, they should be moved into a system designed for state healthcare. This would also mean an effective end to Medicaid, with states getting block grants, left up to their own management, for the poor.
2) Strictly limit insurance pooling for ordinary health care, to catastrophic coverage. HMO pooling would be pay as you go, with no government funding. Doctors already “outside of the system” of government funding and insurance have found they can charge 50% less, and still have higher profit margins, as well as provide quality care.
3) Disassociate health care from employment. If an employer wants to offer health care, it must be fully funded, not insured, and pay as you go.
4) Take most liability out of malpractice. Malpractice should result in loss of medical license. Only if the license to practice has been revoked should a physician be subject to civil litigation.
"Free market" is what a free individual will pay for what he wants to buy, in the absence of legal restraints on either the buyer or the seller. Anything else is the imposition, by force, of *someone's* conception of what should be bought and sold and what the exchange price should be.
That is, to belabor the point, the opposite of freedom.
“To cut health costs, doctors, hospitals must end unneeded medical procedures”
As soon as you explain that to the ambulance chasers.
Whether or not a medical procedure is “needed” is somewhat analogous to the distinction between major and minor surgery.
Minor surgery implies low risk, little pain and a quick return to normal life.
Major surgery is any surgical procedure performed on me.
Most people who show up at the doctors office expect things be done to address their complaint. They are not comforted by the line, “it is statistically unlikely that there is anything seriously wrong with you, therefore, we aren’t going to check out any of your complaints.”
If one goes to the doctor with an ailment, the expectation is that the doctor will do what is necessary to diagnose and treat the ailment. Otherwise, why go?
The doctor’s responsibility is to the patient - not to the insurance company, not to Medicare drones (roots of this are in the Hippocratic Oath). There is no question that current third party payment methods take most of the immediate cost out of the discussion for the patient. But that is not the fault of the individual doctor or patient, and does not change the facts of what the doctor is responsible for.
Ezekiel Emmaneul, Rahm Emmmanuel’s brother (a physician), has written that docs need to abandon the Hippocratic Oath and its placement of the patient’s good as the doc’s main focus, to be replaced by “societal good” and the “management of society’s resources” (not quoting him directly). If that happens, understand the doc is no longer working for you.
What about the dozens to hundreds of drugs that fail the tests for a variety of reasons and at different stages of the process?
The few drugs that do pan out MUST pay the costs of all the failures, plus produce a profit for the company. Or it won't be in business long to produce more wonderful new drugs.
Unless I'm quite confused I don't see drug companies reporting 50% to 80% profits.
The average profit margin of the pharmaceutical companies in the Fortune 1000 list is 16% (profits as a percent of revenue). This is in line with the profit margins of the banking (13%), diversified financial (11%), tobacco (11%), and real estate (10%) industries (Fortune, 2002)1 . None of these industries has the need to pour money back into research that the pharmaceutical industry does.
This is from 10 years ago. Though I suspect they aren't much different now.
Apple profits are over 40%. Isn't a new drug that saves lives worth something vaguely resembling the rewards for a new iPad?
Exactly. It would be so nice to “systems restore” back to 1965 BTK.
(Before Ted Kennedy)
We all know that “unnecessary” Procedures in the Hospital magically become “necessary” Procedures in the Courtroom.
What a bunch of Obama butt kissing idiots.
Drugs are much cheaper in other countries. Mexico is known for cheap drugs. How much cheaper are drugs there?
How about not paying for treatment of the common cold? If you’re going to be serious about cutting cost, then be serious.
Tort reform. The procedures are CYA for doctors to avoid lawsuits. Remove the lawsuit threat and docs will order what they need for a legitimate diagnosis. It would help to get the freeloaders off the doctor’s back as well. Mandating treatment for people who can’t or won’t pay for services makes it necessary to burden other patients to make up the losses. That is wrong. Socialism is always a failure...no matter what method is attempted to implement it.
Tests like ECG, CXR and head CT are usually unneeded. Just like driving a car without an airbag or seatbelt. The problem is that when you restrict your range of indications, you miss some important diagnoses. Well, at least if more people die earlier, medical costs will go down.
And yet tort reform is still off the table.
Emmanuel bros sound evil