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Study: Doctors Order Fewer Lab Tests When They Know The Price

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File photo of a doctor wearing a stethoscope. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

File photo of a doctor wearing a stethoscope. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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BALTIMORE (CBSDC) – The findings of a new study indicate that doctors will order fewer laboratory tests for their patients if they know the cost of performing said tests.

The study, conducted by researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, found a marked decrease in the amount of lab tests ordered when doctors knew the prices they fetched, including blood work.

Those involved in the study, including lead author Dr. Leonard Feldman, did not see the decline in a negative light.

“[Before the study] we saw a lot of waste,” he told Reuters Health. “We saw a lot of tests that didn’t need to be ordered.”

During the study, researchers reportedly compiled a list of common and costly lab tests ordered at their resident hospital. Then, those prices were displayed for doctors to see between November of 2009 to May of 2010.

Though doctors were unsure of why the prices were made known, posting them made its mark all the same – tests ordered for hospitalized patients dropped from 3.7 per day in years past to 3.4 per day.

Before costs became known, a reported $226 billion was spent in over treating patients in 2011, Feldman noted in the study. An alleged $400,000 was saved during the time the study was conducted.

Feldman noted to Reuters Health, “The rational approach to ordering tests is something we should all be interested in, and something – if we did better – that would save the system money and save the patients the horror of causing harm.”

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