Healthcare Business News

Little research on overuse of healthcare in U.S., study says

By Maureen McKinney
Posted: January 23, 2012 - 6:00 pm ET

Despite concerns about the high cost and inefficiency associated with the overuse of healthcare, research is limited and often addresses only a few medical interventions, according to an article published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

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Most studies measure overuse of antibiotics for upper respiratory infections, coronary artery bypass grafting, coronary angiography and carotid endarterectomy, said the authors, who reviewed data from more than 170 articles on the use of tests, procedures and medications. Research has been mostly confined to those four areas because there are clear parameters for judging appropriateness of care, they added.

“The limited overuse literature is understandable given the challenges of developing standards to measure overuse,” the authors wrote.

The authors emphasized the need for better guidelines on a wider range of healthcare interventions as a way to boost research on overuse, particularly in areas such as preventive diagnostic services.

“Expanding the evidence base and establishing appropriateness criteria for a broader range of services could help target and eliminate overuse in healthcare services, which could reduce healthcare spending without adversely affecting the health of the public,” according to the study.

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