Photo: Lydia Polimeni, National Institutes of Health via Flickr
A Stat investigation has found that “prestigious medical research institutions have flagrantly violated a federal law requiring public reporting of study results, depriving patients and doctors of complete data to gauge the safety and benefits of treatments.”
The violations have left gaping holes in a federal database used by millions of patients, their relatives, and medical professionals, often to compare the effectiveness and side effects of treatments for deadly diseases such as advanced breast cancer.
A new report from the Dartmouth Atlas Project documents the wide variations of use of drug therapies by Medicare patients across the U.S., shedding additional light on how geography plays an important role in quality and cost of care.
Dartmouth researchers also find that the health status of a region’s Medicare population accounts for less than a third of the variation in total prescription drug use, and that higher spending is not related to higher use of proven drug therapies. The study raises questions about whether regional practice culture explains
differences in the quality and quantity of prescription drug use.
For example, heart attack victims in Ogden, Utah, are twice as likely as those in Abeline, Texas, to be prescribed cholesterol lowering medication to reduce risk of another heart attack, an inconsistency which reflects how medicine is practiced in the United States, according to Jeffrey C. Munson, M.D., M.S.C.E., lead author and assistant professor at The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice. Continue reading