Study: Reimbursement leads to overuse of cardiac stress tests
Posted November 8, 2011
Durham, N.C. — 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.