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Cost not a factor in physician orders of imaging tests

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Feb. 4, 2013

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Giving doctors information about the cost of diagnostic tests such as magnetic resonance imaging has no impact on their orders, said a study in the Journal of the American College of Radiology.

Researchers collected data on the 10 most frequently ordered imaging tests at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore during a six-month baseline period. During a subsequent six-month study period, cost information was displayed for five of the tests and not shown for the other five. There was no statistically significant difference in the rate of imaging orders between the two groups of tests, said the Dec. 27, 2012, study (link).

“Cost alone does not seem to be the determining factor in deciding to go ahead with an expensive radiographic test,” said Daniel J. Brotman, MD, the study’s senior author and an associate professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins. “When it comes to big-ticket tests like MRI, it appears the doctors have already decided they need to know the information, regardless of the cost of the test.”

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