Educating hospital staff about the costs of lab tests may keep physicians from ordering as many of them. A new study in the Archives of Surgery found that when surgical residents were made aware of the daily costs of blood tests, they ordered far fewer of them—a change that saved nearly $55,000 over 11 weeks in one hospital.
To cut test expenses, talk to docs about costs: study
Reducing the number of blood tests had "no adverse effects" on patients, according to the study. “Across multiple studies, there has been no difference in readmission rates, transfer to (the) intensive-care unit, length of stay, diagnoses or mortality when laboratory tests have been significantly decreased."
Per-patient daily phlebotomy charges fell from $147.73 to $108.11 over the course of the study following weekly announcements explaining the cost of lab services to surgical house staff.
The success of the intervention is especially promising, the authors wrote, because it took very little time or money to implement.
"Practice patterns, specifically phlebotomy ordering, can be significantly reduced by providers knowing the economic cost of medical decision-making," according to the study. "Perhaps making the cost of procedures or tests more immediately available to those ordering them would result in more judicious ordering. This could then result in savings for the hospital and healthcare system as a whole."
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