… in the Minneapolis Star Tribune notes that the most charitable description of what’s been going on at the clubby University of Minnesota medical school would be “bizarre.”
Sunday, July 25, 2010
Why do Minnesota patients
get more lower back
The story captured a key question about "what's the right rate of MRIs?" Excerpt:
" (a) spokeswoman for the Minnesota Hospital Association (said) "It is impossible to make judgments from the data ... on whether or not clinicians ordered too many, too few or just the right number of imaging tests."
And Schwitzer pokes the bigger brother of the Twin Cities newspapers:
Bingo. And that's why the data are important whether you live in a high-use or low-use area. As Dartmouth's Jack Wennberg has been saying for decades, we don't know the right rate of utilization of many medical interventions. But the variations across the country show that patients may not be fully informed, may not be told about the tradeoffs of benefits and harms, and may not be provided a truly shared decision-making encounter. Until true reform occurs in these patient-physician encounters, you can forget about getting overuse, overtreatment and health care spending under control.
Snowbeck and the Pioneer Press did a good job of digging and finding an important local story.
And where was the much larger, much better-staffed Star Tribune on this story? The same paper that just stole away Snowbeck's colleague Jeremy Olson who used to cover health care for the Pioneer Press? Deafeningly silent. I had actually written to a key staffer at the Star Tribune recently asking when/if the state's biggest paper was going to mine the data from the new Medicare database to see if there were any important local findings. I got no response. I've not seen a story in the paper on it. And I couldn't find one after I did an online search. Maybe I missed it. But regardless, thank goodness for a little remaining competition between two newspapers in a metropolitan area. And on this one - apparently - the little guy won the day big time.+++