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Friday, September 14, 2012

Waste in the health care system

This week, a report from the Institute of Medicine showed that $750 billion of the $2.6 trillion a year that Americans spend on health care is wasted. This includes unnecessary, unplanned and unforeseen costs like excessive administration, inefficient delivery of care, fraud, and prevention failures.

It also includes a whopping $210 billion on unnecessary care, meaning over treating, prescribing or testing health care users.  André Picard noted that we cannot pretend this analysis does not also reflect the situation in Canada.

In 2010, we reported on the inappropriate use of diagnostic imaging and over prescribing. Our report showed that over the past 10 years, the number of prescriptions filled at community pharmacies has almost doubled – from 272 million in 1999 to 483 million in 2009. In terms of diagnostic imaging, compared to 2003, there has been a 58% increase in CT scans and 100% increase in the number of MRIs conducted. Of these tests, according to the Canadian Association of Radiologists, as many as 30% are inappropriate or contribute no useful information.

We need to leave the more-is-better attitude behind and innovate to improve our system.

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