Study proves myth of 'diagnostic imaging driving up costs'

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A study released in the June issue of the Radiology goes a long way in dispelling the belief that diagnostic imaging is significantly pushing up healthcare costs. The study reveals that diagnostic imaging cost increases have followed the same patterns as other hospital expenditures, with the added bonus of possibly reducing hospital stays.

The study looked at costs associated for 17,139 patients admitted to Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in Boston in the period of 1996 to 2002. Despite the fact that diagnostic imaging procedures such as CT and MRI multiplied by over two times, the percentage of the total costs for the hospital remained generally as it was previously.
   
Also, the study noted that patient stays were somewhat reduced (0.26 of a day) during the period which also helped to level the cost increase percentage.
   
Participants of the study included six groups selected by MGH by the following diagnoses: stroke, appendectomy, lung cancer, colon cancer, back problems and upper gastrointestinal. Though costs for the sample group were 51 percent higher in 2002 as compared to 1996, they were still in line with other hospital expenses (at 55 percent higher).

The study also noted that hospital's numbers reflected national trends.