Why Doctors Shouldn’t Be Punished for Giving Prostate Tests (‘The New York Times’)



Physicians shouldn’t be punished for giving prostate tests, writes the Geisel School of Medicine’s H. Gilbert Welch, co-author of an op-ed in The New York Times, opposing Medicare’s proposal to penalize physicians for ordering prostate-specific antigen, or PSA, tests.

The op-ed argues that there are reasons not to screen for prostate cancer, as the test may find nonlethal cancer. More than half of men age 60 or older have such nonlethal prostate cancers, the opinion piece says, and are more likely to die with it, rather than from it.

“Screening is a choice. Medicare should not penalize doctors for ordering PSA tests, but it should make sure it is not giving the test away free,” says the op-ed. “Support the process by rewarding doctors for taking the time to discuss the trade-offs patients face. Medicare already requires, and reimburses for, shared decision making for lung cancer screening; it should do the same for prostate cancer screening.”

Welch is a professor of medicine at Geisel and at The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice. He is also a professor of business administration for the Master of Health Care Delivery Science program.

Read the entire story, published 1/7/16 in The New York Times.

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