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MedSolutions Joins Call for Increased Attention on Diagnostic Errors

April 8, 2009

JAMA commentary highlights startling lack of focus on costly problem

NASHVILLE, Tenn., April 8 /PRNewswire/ — MedSolutions (www.medsolutions.com), a provider of medical cost management services that help health plans control diagnostic imaging costs while improving quality of care, today commended a recent Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) commentary that calls for the medical community to address the growing issue of diagnostic errors.

In their report (“Diagnostic Errors – The Next Frontier for Patient Safety” – JAMA, March 11, 2009), Johns Hopkins patient safety experts David Newman-Toker, M.D., Ph.D., and Peter Pronovost, M.D., Ph.D., assert greater public and scientific focus is needed to prevent diagnosis-related harm.

Often unrecognized or unreported, diagnostic errors receive little attention despite the fact that they cause up to 80,000 hospital deaths a year and result in twice as many tort claims as medication errors. In addition, roughly 5 percent of autopsies reveal diagnostic errors for which correct diagnosis and treatment could have averted death. No statistics exist for misdiagnosis-related deaths in outpatients.

“Despite the popular current focus on medical errors like prescription drug errors and hospital-acquired infections, diagnostic errors likely cause more harm. Diagnostic errors get very little attention from the medical community or the media,” said Curt Thorne, chief executive officer of MedSolutions. “It is great that such a respected institution has highlighted this under-reported truth. Financial costs of misdiagnosis are obvious. Clearly, it wastes money to give the patient the wrong treatment, while at the same time failing to provide the right treatment earlier can cause disease to advance, making it more costly to control. It is about more than money, however. The human costs of misdiagnosis can be devastating. We must also consider the tremendous human toll a wrong diagnosis can take.”

The Johns Hopkins experts advocate an industry-wide focus on larger system failures that can lead to misdiagnosis. They also point to tools such as screening checklists, computerized diagnostic decision-support systems, and the use of independent diagnostic experts to review radiology and imaging test results as practical, low-cost solutions.

MedSolutions’ Premerus(SM) Diagnostic Accuracy program is the first and only solution that reduces diagnostic errors and lowers overall expense. Premerus provides patients and the doctors who treat them with expert interpretation of imaging studies from some of the nation’s leading diagnosticians.

Research affirms that a physician’s degree of specialization and volume of experience reading certain types of scans dramatically increase the probability of accurate diagnosis. For example, a recent study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that while some physicians failed to identify breast cancer 71 percent of the time, those who specialized in mammography had an error rate of only 3 percent.

“With today’s rapidly advancing technology and the growing complexity of medical imaging, it’s not realistic to expect general radiologists to read tests as accurately as specialists,” said Gregg Allen, M.D., chief medical officer of MedSolutions. “A wrong diagnosis can lead to the wrong treatment that not only fails to help the patient, but also carries the risk of side effects that can be worse than the original problem. We created Premerus on the principle that expert interpretation yields greater diagnostic precision and improved outcomes.”

In addition to improving diagnostic accuracy, Premerus is proven to reduce costs associated with misdiagnosis, such as unnecessary therapies, unwarranted tests and additional treatment required to reverse the effects of wrong therapies. An independently validated study conducted by the actuarial firm Thomson Reuters shows that healthcare payors utilizing Premerus can expect near-term savings of $4.45 per member, per month when utilized in a commercial insured population. Savings could range even higher in a Medicare Advantage population due to greater incidence of co-morbid conditions, including disease processes such as cancer. Accurate diagnosis of cancer in the early stages has been associated with higher survival rates, as well as with being more cost effective to treat.

“Increased focus in the medical community and common sense solutions such as those outlined in the JAMA commentary are needed to increase awareness of diagnostic errors and advance the science of how to identify and prevent them,” said Thorne. “We applaud Dr. Newman-Toker and Dr. Pronovost of Johns Hopkins for their efforts to bring this often overlooked, yet vitally important, issue to the forefront.”

About MedSolutions

Using independently validated savings methodologies, MedSolutions specializes in intelligent cost management of medical services for commercial, Medicare and Medicaid payors. The company maintains management contracts for nearly 25 million individuals nationwide. Using robust data, predictive intelligence technology and clinical expertise, the company’s innovative solutions extend beyond radiology management to other areas of medical specialty, including cardiology, oncology, ultrasound, emergency room and Premerus(SM) diagnostic accuracy. MedSolutions has been twice recognized for its Call Center operations by the prestigious J.D. Power and Associates Award. Visit www.medsolutions.com.

SOURCE MedSolutions


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