Variations in physician services, hospitalizations, surgeries, imaging and prescriptions in three New England states suggest that the medical care children receive is often the result of the preferences and capacity of hospitals and physicians rather than patient need, according to an analysis by the Dartmouth Atlas Project.
Researchers examined claims data generated in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont between 2007 and 2010 from an all-payer data set for patients younger than 18 years old.
Children in Dover, N.H., had close to twice as many emergency department visits as those in Burlington, Vt.; more than twice as many children in Lebanon, N.H., had their tonsils taken out as those in Bangor, Maine; and similar variances were found in the rates for computerized tomography, or CT, scans across the region.
“The authors of the study raise challenging questions and there is a lot of detail in the study that deserves further attention,” said Dr. John Bancroft, chief of pediatrics at Maine Medical Center in Portland.
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