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Study: Patients paying for brain scans that may not be necessary

The time spent in the waiting room at a doctor’s office alone can be draining. Many North Adams patients then have to endure long appointments and follow-up meetings to resolve issues. While these trips can be time-consuming, they can also be life-saving as physicians conduct tests to try to avoid medical negligence. Mounting evidence is showing, however, that some of these tests are not only unnecessary, but they are costing a significant amount of money.

Roughly $1 billion is spent every year on MRIs and CT scans due to a patient complaining about headaches or migraines. An assistant professor of neurology at the University of Michigan Health System noted that the MRI may only turn up something in about 1 to 3 percent of patients. However, researchers have found that from 1995 to 2010, there has been a 5 percent jump in the number of brain scans ordered.

A scan could cost upward for $4,000, though most insurance will only pay between $500 and $2,000 for it. A recent study noted that the main reason the scans are ordered is to reassure a patient that there is not a serious condition behind headaches or migraines. Physicians who recommend the tests are also concerned about a misdiagnosis that could result in a malpractice lawsuit.

Guidelines put forth by several medical groups recommend that scans are not used for headaches if other indications are absent. However, peace of mind may make the scan worth the price tag for some. Additionally, a doctor who fails to diagnose an issue such as a tumor or stroke could be held financially responsible. Patients who find that a physician misses an issue or incorrectly diagnoses a problem should contact an attorney to pursue compensation.

Source: Health.com, “Unneeded Brain Scans for Headaches Cost $1 Billion Per Year,” Steven Reinberg, March 17, 2014

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