Erik A. Wallace, MD; John H. Schumann, MD; Steven E. Weinberger, MD
Potential Conflicts of Interest: Disclosures can be viewed at www.acponline.org/authors/icmje/ConflictOfInterestForms.do?msNum=M12-0927.
Wallace EA, Schumann JH, Weinberger SE. Ethics of Commercial Screening Tests. Ann Intern Med. 2013;158:500. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-158-6-201303190-00019
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Published: Ann Intern Med. 2013;158(6):500.
Dr. Keller correctly states that some of the tests offered by commercial screening companies can be obtained for less time and money than if they were ordered by a primary care physician during an office visit. However, through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, some recommended preventive services (such as abdominal aortic ultrasonography in men aged 65 to 75 years who previously smoked) are required to be covered by health insurance plans with no cost-sharing by beneficiaries (1).
In addition, it is important to note that the article's focus was not primarily on the costs or quality of the imaging but rather on the ethical responsibility of the company or organization offering the screening tests to inform consumers about whether the advertised testing is recommended by clinical guidelines or reputable medical organizations and, if so, for which patient populations. The arguments offered by Dr. Keller do not negate the need for “truth in advertising”—it is fine for testing to be offered to consumers, as long as there are disclosures about whether and for whom each of the advertised screening tests is formally recommended by reputable sources.
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