Millions of Americans see the doctor each year with worries about a persistent or severe headache or migraine…And according to a new University of Michigan Medical School study, 12 percent of those visits end in a brain scan being ordered for the patient. Those brain scans add up to a total cost of roughly $1 billion a year.
Health experts say it’s a waste of resources, given the extremely low probability of a scan finding a serious issue, such as a malignant brain tumor…
A number of national guidelines have been issued in the last decade advising doctors to refrain from ordering scans for those who complain of headaches. But the frequency of brain scans continues to go up, suggesting patients are advocating for them — an expensive way to get reassurance that a brain tumor or aneurysm isn’t lurking inside the cerebrum.
The answer might be better educating the public about the costs verses the risk, says Callaghan. On top of the fact that statistics show a scan is unlikely to find anything serious, it also exposes the brain to radiation.
And monetarily speaking, the true costs of all these unnecessary scans could be higher. The research doesn’t factor in additional costs, such as follow-up tests or treatment for minor issues discovered as a result of the scans.
Callaghan says the bottom line is this: trust your doctor. If he or she doesn’t think a scan is necessary, then you don’t need one.
Any journalist who avoids the question of greedy physicians/medical facilities operating their radiology department as a juicy little profit center hasn’t the foggiest idea what American healthcare is all about.