As governments worldwide struggle to balance their health care budgets, a US study has found that a simple and almost free intervention can significantly reduce spending on routine blood tests. Researchers calculated the weekly costs of complete blood cell counts and chemistry panel tests for all non-intensive care unit patients at Rhode Island Hospital for 11 consecutive weeks. Each week an announcement was made to surgical staff and attending physicians of the total dollar value of these tests, as well as the charges per patient per day. The paper, called “Surgical vampires and rising health care expenditure”, reports that the baseline phlebotomy charges were $147.73 per patient per day. During the intervention, the costs dropped as low as $108.11 per patient per day, with almost $55,000 saved over 11 weeks. In an editorial on the research, Dr A Benedict Cosimi (Department of Surgery, Massachusetts General Hospital) writes that the study is “convincing evidence that cost consciousness can provide a potent weapon for reducing some of the wasteful medical spending”.
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