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Saving Lives, Wasting Money

Cardiologist William Boden, M.D., led the Courage trial, which discovered that stent surgery “usually yields no additional benefit when used with a cocktail of generic drugs in patients suffering from chronic chest pain”.  Dr. Steve Nissen, at the time chairman of the American College of Cardiology, called the Courage findings a “blockbuster,” but the Wall Street Journal quotes Dr. Boden as saying: “Most (cardiologists) haven’t patient carevoluntarily incorporated the Courage criteria into their practice. What’s going to continue to drive practice is reimbursement.” The Journal article also cites Dr. Sanjay Kaul of Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute in Los Angeles, who argued that the U.S. healthcare system could save $5 billion of the $15 billion it spends annually on stent procedures if it adopted the Courage guidelines.
The Courage trial, “medicine’s missed opportunity for comparative effective savings,” is mirrored by a recent study that determined the 2005 decision by Medicare to pay doctors to do bladder surgery in their offices “dramatically raised the number of procedures and overall health costs”.
In short, the current U.S. healthcare system rewards doctors for overusing expensive procedures. Like the FDA, the system must be reformed from the ground up. Lori Knutson, R.N., BC-HN, executive director of the Penny George Institute, reports that inpatient integrative care is saving $2,000 per patient per hospital stay at Abbott Northwestern Hospital. What a great model to study!

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3 thoughts on “Saving Lives, Wasting Money

  • Ann Curtis

    I’ve always thought there was a lot of wasted money in the medical community. This article just proves it.

  • Patrick J Hatwan

    This article, Saving Lives, Wasting Money….you are saying our healthcare system is doing an incredible job at saving lives? Show me how that is so. Our health care system is taking more lives and injuring more people than ever before. I find this unconscionable from the perspective of a natural health practitioner. Trauma care may be given a dim green light with your statement but health care must be given a huge red light and a vote of no confidence until germ therory and toxicology are eliminated from the standard of care.

  • Frances O'Neill

    The government never goes after the insurance companies for paying for services that are inadequate or not done at all. If you call the insurance companies on these items, they just tell you that they were paid and it is up to you to prove that the services were not done.
    It should be like any other service. The doctors and hospital should be held accountable for quality service not quantity.
    We are overcharged and underserviced.

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