• Quote: The cost of a mouse click

    Costly tests that once would have required physicians to submit multiple collection vials and specimens can now be ordered with the Pap smear simply by clicking a single box in the electronic medical record. Nothing at any point along the way alerts either the clinician or the patient to the high costs of these tests or to the fact that there is little medical evidence to suggest that they are useful for most patients. It seems harmless, even possibly beneficial, to run these additional tests, and for our staff, it eliminates the risk of missing a test the doctor might have wanted to have run. The risk it poses, though — the one I face when a patient calls about a crippling bill — is that more and more women may choose not to undergo screening, afraid of the financial consequences.

    Cheryl Bettigole, The New England Journal of Medicine


    • Does this mean the most expensive instrument in US health care is now the mouse in the MD’s hand, rather than the pen? Is that progress or what?

    • In the rushed 15 to 20 minutes with the doctor, it’s hard to find time to ask what exactly a test is going to measure, not to mention the cost.