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Budget cuts of imaging scans may backfire
Researchers said the length of the average U.S. hospital stay increased at the same time as use of medical imaging scans declined.
Dr. Richard Duszak, chief executive officer and senior research fellow of the Harvey L. Neiman Health Policy Institute, said it is unclear if the trends are related but potentially important, as hospital admissions are among the largest and fastest growing healthcare costs.
Since 2006, there have been $6 billion in funding reductions for imaging diagnosis and treatment planning, Duszak said.
More research is needed to assess the potential effects of government and private insurance imaging reductions on overall medical costs and patient safety because imaging scans have been shown to reduce the number of invasive surgeries, unnecessary hospital admissions and length of hospital stays, Duszak said.
“Lawmakers, regulators and medical professionals are making medical imaging policy decisions without fully understanding or examining their downstream effects, which may include an increase in hospital stays, associated costs and other adverse events,” Duszak said in a statement.
“We need to examine imaging, as it relates to a patient’s overall continuum of care, to ensure that decision makers don’t create imaging cost reduction policies which paradoxically raise overall costs, create barriers to care and ultimately harm patients.”
Copyright 2012 by United Press International