A medical-testing lesson from Minnesota: Less can be more

  • Article by: Jeremy Olson , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 6, 2014 - 8:29 PM

The state’s approach to cutting unneeded medical scans could be a model for federal Medicare savings.

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decembersueJan. 6, 1412:38 PM

Not sure why Paulsen is trying to improve medicare, given his party his expressly in favor of eliminating it and replacing it with a voucher system that is minimally regulated. I think we can file this under "talking out of both sides of one's mouth."

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omakristyJan. 6, 1412:49 PM

This is an excellent example of collaboration to assure responsible and appropriate use of medical technology. Inflated medical costs in the US are well documented; it has nothing to do with insurers, but everything to do with unprincipled use of technology. Now we need to make this a best-practice example and apply common-sense decision-making to medical care for all Minnesotans. I mean it.

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ivanjbonkJan. 6, 1412:56 PM

I undestand the @234 million but how do they support 96 cancer-related deaths : CSI projects that the approach has prevented $234 million in questionable or unnecessary scans, and 96 cancer-related deaths that would have been expected due to the radiation exposure that comes with CT scans had use of the scans continued growing at previous levels.

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cabramsJan. 6, 14 1:04 PM

Maybe they prevented 120 cancer deaths. Or 30. Or none at all. That is all pure conjecture and shouldn't even be in the report.

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newpaperJan. 6, 14 1:23 PM

This is real health care cost containment. Which means that it will soon be attacked as "cutting Medicare" or "implementing Death Panels".

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pjhawk95Jan. 6, 14 1:26 PM

A guy I know just went in for open heart surgery to remove an aneurism - how did they know it was there? If was found during an MRI for back pain. So don't tell me there are too many of these scans. You should also never trust the motives of a politician in regards to an issue like this.

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ruphinaJan. 6, 14 1:30 PM

The MRI uses NO ionizing radiation, therefore causing NO cancer. it's only dangers come from metal objects and devices in the body. The answer to MRI cost is to make it dramatically cheaper. I just went through a shoulder separation/fracture, and the radiologist gave me a reading of "my shoulder is toast", but the consulting said no, it is actually pretty good for my age and the trauma and there is NO WAY he would do surgery as it would do more harm than good. What he did say is that benchmark MRIs of joints and lower backs would dramatically improve the ability to diagnose injuries and changes that cause problems later in life, but are just too cost prohibitive. Make the machine and procedure cheap, like a dental x-ray, and we wouldn't need a decision tree and consulting opinions just on whether or not to MRI. Bill G.

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rlwr51Jan. 6, 14 1:37 PM

A friend of mine just died. He was experiencing back and hip pain. After three months of pain pills the doctor decided that he needed hip surgery. Six months later when the pain was still getting worse he finally went to another doctor. The new doctor did a scan and it was found that he had terminal cancer. Another friend had back pain and was told it was sciatica, which he thought made sense since he had had surgery on a disc in that region years before. Then one day he started hemorrhaging - he was diagnosed with rectal cancer. After he was done with the chemo, radiation and surgery he noticed that his back didn't hurt anymore.

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rlwr51Jan. 6, 14 1:38 PM

I would think that the more scans are done the cheaper each one would be.

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rshacklefordJan. 6, 14 2:13 PM

(rlwr51 wrote): "I would think that the more scans are done the cheaper each one would be." ---- True and that would be great. But, MRI machines require helium and that element is a finite resource. We are getting closer to banning its use for balloons.

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