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Consumer Group Demands Hospitals to Stop Unnecessary Health Screenings

Update Date: Jun 19, 2014 02:17 PM EDT
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Consumer group, Public Citizen is demanding 20 hospitals to stop offering patients health screenings that are unnecessary. The non-profit group believes that marketing certain tests when they are not required is an unethical practice and should be stopped. In order to end this practice, Public Citizen has sent letters to hospitals from eight different states asking them to end their relationship with HealthFair Health Screening, based in Winter Park, FL, which offers screening programs and packages that can do more harm than good.

"It is exploitative to promote and provide medically non-beneficial testing through the use of misleading and fear-mongering advertisements in order to generate medically unnecessary but profitable referrals to the institutions partnered with HealthFair," said Dr. Michael Carome, director of Public Citizen's Health Research Group reported in the Los Angeles Times.

In the letter, the group pointed out some of the consequences of using HealthFair's cardiovascular screening package. The package includes capturing images of the heart, measuring electrical activity and looking for arterial problems, such as blockages. Even though preventive measures are vital, the group found that these types of screening packages often result in false positives, which can lead to a lot of unnecessary tests and costs.

The letter added that even though some of these tests might be beneficial, too many of them are being recommended to the general public. Patients who are not considered high risk for certain diseases should not need to undergo all of the tests provided for by these screening packages. The group added that HealthFair tricks its consumers by stating that their $179 basic cardiovascular screening package is valued at $2,300. Even if the prices are low at first, follow-up tests can end up costing 10 to 100 times as much.

"That $179 may seem like a bargain, but zero dollars would be the real bargain," Carome stated according to USA Today. "You don't need to spend any money on these tests unless you fit into a very narrow population, and no one needs to be screened with six at once."

Instead of these tests, Public Citizen believes that patients should consult with their doctors regarding what is best for their health based on their risk factors.

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