This morning, patients and patient advocacy groups presented a letter to Congress calling for the rejection of proposed deep and arbitrary reimbursement cuts to medical imaging services. If passed, the cuts would be an unnecessary hindrance to the access of these important technologies, especially in rural communities.
Medical imaging is an essential element of modern medicine—it can make a diagnosis early when treatment is easiest, save lives, and treat conditions.
More importantly, medical imaging is about more than dollar signs—it alters the course of individual lives. For my mom, advanced imaging technology was needed to identify unexpected new pain after she had back surgery. On an x-ray, her bone fusion (grafted from her hip) looked solid, but a follow-up CT myelogram showed that the bone graft had failed, necessitating further surgery. Without that scan, my mom's quality of life would be significantly diminished.
The New England Journal of Medicine called medical imaging one of eleven "developments that changed the face of clinical medicine." Why should we deprive ourselves—and our families and friends—of lifesaving and life-altering technology?
There are better ways to make sure that the right scan is given at the right time—like the use of physician-developed appropriateness criteria. Arbitrary cuts are not the answer, especially when lives really would be at stake.