Health Team

Study: Reimbursement leads to overuse of cardiac stress tests

Posted November 8, 2011

— New research from Duke University suggests that there might be financial motives behind the increase in cardiac stress tests that have been recommended by doctors over the last decade.

The stress tests are common before and after heart bypass surgeries and stenting procedures to open blocked arteries.

Duke cardiologist Dr. Bimal Shah led the study, which was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, and reviewed three years of a national insurer's records for bypass and stenting claims.

The study found that doctors who bill for both the equipment and the interpretation of the tests were 50 to 100 percent more likely to order the testing than doctors who only interpreted the results.

"The way that financial reimbursement is structured for some of these tests may induce increased use, and in some cases, overuse," Shah said.

Shah said that the test is useful for patients with chest pain, shortness of breath or other heart-related symptoms, but that it is being recommended too often to patients without symptoms.


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  • timbo10.0 Nov 8, 2011

    Another question is who is paying for this study? The insurance company? BCBS is known to manage doctors when the data shows it most cases, it's unnecessary.

    I wonder if Shah's study is being underwritten by the insurance company so they can justify not paying for stress tests?

    Naw, insurance companies wouldn't do that...

  • timbo10.0 Nov 8, 2011

    How come he has interpreted the difference as "over use" and not "under use"?

    Interesting he says it's over done. I hate these articles that don't give much info.


  • prn13norm Nov 8, 2011

    Amazing how all these preventive tests are now unnecessary or overused since Obamacare passed. Who said Obamacare would not lead to "death panels"?

  • ohmygosh Nov 8, 2011

    As is the "nuclear stress test". Put Echocardiograms into this category too.