Thursday, May 18, 2006

Health Check-Ups NEED HELP
......A new government-sponsored study out this week looked at all the preventive services offered by doctors and rated them according to both their potential health impact as well as their cost-effectiveness.
According to the study, five of the top-rated services are being provided to fewer than half the patients who should be getting them.
"Many Americans are not receiving the most valuable preventive services,'' said Ashley Coffield, a senior analyst with the Partnership for Prevention, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to health promotion, who helped write the report......
Of the 25 top-valued services, the researchers found that seven are utilized by less than 50 percent of the patients who should get the care.
They include:
_ Discussing daily aspirin use with men 40 and older, women 50 and older and anyone else at increased risk for heart disease. If everyone took the blood thinner that should (and some have medical reasons not to), as many as 80,000 lives a year might be saved, the report said.
_ Screening adults for tobacco use, offering them brief counseling and offering medicines and other aids to help them quit. Although this is one of the most valuable services, 65 percent of patients haven't received this service as recommended. If everyone got it and just two or three percent of smokers managed to quit, it would save the country more than $3 billion a year in medical costs
_ Regular screening for colorectal cancer. Although it's the second-deadliest cancer, it had a high cure rate when caught early. But 65 percent don't get properly screened. If all adults over age 50 were regularly checked, it would prevent 19,000 deaths a year.
_ Pneumococcal vaccine for adults over 65. One dose of this shot prevents pneumonia from numerous types of bacterial infection and protects for 10 years. Yet only 45 percent of seniors have gotten the shot. If they all did, it would cut health costs by $50 million a year and save thousands of live.
_ Asking adults about alcohol use. It's estimated that if all adults were periodically counseled about drinking, 6,000 deaths and 400,000 injuries a year could be avoided.
_ Chlamydia screening among all sexually active women under age 25. There are 3 million new cases of this disease each year. If all women were appropriately tested, the experts say 60,000 cases of pelvic inflammatory disease and 7,500 cases of infertility could be prevented.
_ Vision screening for older adults. About one of every four seniors wear inappropriate corrective lenses for their eyes. Getting them the right glasses could not only improve their quality of life and self-sufficiency, but also reduce hip fractures from falls.
A separate report from the National Eye Institute released last week, based on a national sample of vision tests, found that six percent of Americans over age 12 are visually impaired, and most of them, about 11 million, do not have corrective lenses. It also found that the age group most likely to have vision problems that can be corrected, but are not, are those aged 60 and older

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