Report: Medical specialists unlikely to list their services as unwise expenditures | Arkansas Blog

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Report: Medical specialists unlikely to list their services as unwise expenditures

Posted By on Sun, May 4, 2014 at 7:32 AM

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Sen. David Sanders recommends an article from Kaiser Health News on how medical specialist groups have begun providing lists of unwise procedures in their areas of practice. As the article notes, some seem highly reluctant to include their own lucrative procedures in the list.

Take orthopedic surgeons.

When America's joint surgeons were challenged to come up with a list of unnecessary procedures in their field, their selections shared one thing: none significantly impacted their incomes.

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons discouraged patients with joint pain from taking two types of dietary supplements, wearing custom shoe inserts, or overusing wrist splints after carpal tunnel surgery. The surgeons also condemned an infrequently performed procedure where doctors wash a pained knee joint with saline.

"They could have chosen many surgical procedures that are commonly done, where evidence has shown over the years that they don't work or where they're being done with no evidence," said Dr. James Rickert, an assistant professor of orthopedic surgery at Indiana University. "They chose stuff of no material consequence that nobody really does."

None dare ask most Arkansas legislators to look into abusive and unneeded medical treatment by richly compensated specialists as a way of curbing the rising cost of medical care. No, the real problem — just ask Tom Cotton or his ilk  — is an insufficient assets tests for those deadbeats seeking Medicaid. Or maybe it's dope smoking. Let's drug-test the deadbeats and toss the dopers off Medicaid. Be sure they get some unnecessary orthopedic surgery first, though.

Take a read of the full article and see what you think. Who's the welfare king or queen when doctors make millions off billing government medical programs for procedures of small benefit to patients? The article discusses other specialties besides orthopedic surgeons. For example:

The American College of Cardiology opted to list the use of cardiac testing in four circumstances. But the college did not tackle what studies suggest is the most frequent type of overtreatment in the field: inserting small mesh tubes called stents to prop open arteries of patients who are not suffering heart attacks, rather than first prescribing medicine or encouraging a healthier lifestyle. As many as one out of eight of these stent procedures should not have been performed, according to a study in Circulation, the journal of the American Heart Association. At hospitals where stenting was most overused, 59 percent of stents were inappropriate, the study found.

If you liked THAT article, here's another from Kaiser Health in which a survey shows 3 of 4 doctors think other doctors prescribe an unnecessary test or procedure at least once a week.

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