MASSDEVICE ON CALL — Researchers investigating the frequency of repeat testing among Medicare patients were surprised by their own findings, reporting high rates of redundancy in certain diagnostic tests.
"We examined repetitive testing for 6 commonly performed diagnostic tests in which repeat testing is not routinely anticipated," the authors wrote. "Although we expected a certain fraction of examinations to be repeated, we were struck by the magnitude of that fraction: ⅓ to ½ of these tests are repeated within a 3-year period.
"This finding raises the question whether some physicians are routinely repeating diagnostic tests," the authors added.
Rates of repeat testing are a "major determinant" of a doctor’s ability to curb healthcare costs and to care for additional patients, researchers said.
"This has important implications not only for the capacity to serve new patients and the ability to contain costs but also for the health of the population," according to a press release. "Although the tests themselves pose little risk, repeat testing is a major risk factor for incidental detection and over-diagnosis. Our findings should foster further research in this unstudied area."
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