In medical news:

Spine has published a study along with the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety addressing early MRI for work-related lower back pain. The study found that, despite guidelines discouraging MRIs for uncomplicated cases of acute lower back pain, the practice is “highly prevalent” and varies widely by geography. The researchers concluded that “lumbar MRI without indication led to a subsequent cascade of diagnostic and therapeutic services (including surgery), which generally occurred soon after MRI.” The authors go on to note that this “cascade” was linked primarily to the MRI itself as opposed to severity or pain indicators. Even after controlling for confounders like demographics, education and severity of injury, early MRI was “significantly associated with a large and sustained medical cost escalation, reflecting an overall medical utilization increase, which was greater than seen for the no MRI and timely groups.” Economic and social factors such as doctor self-referral, an oversupply of MRI equipment and “entitlement viewpoints” are cited in the study as possible explanations for nonadherence to MRI guidelines.

Read a summary of the study from Business Insurance here. Read the study via Spine here.

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