NPR Examines Companies That Offer Tests for Diseases Without Prescriptions
NPR's "Morning Edition" on Thursday examined commercial testing companies offering preventive health screenings for a variety of conditions and diseases -- such as high cholesterol, HIV and cysts -- without a prescription. For example, HealthFair USA uses technicians to conduct tests in a mobile health unit, sends test results to be interpreted by a company physician and mails test results to the consumer. Supporters of the screenings -- typically conducted in the absence of symptoms -- say they uncover life-threatening conditions that can be treated, help patients discover irregularities that might lead to health problems and encourage consumers to take more responsibility for their own health care, including by paying for tests out of pocket, NPR reports. However, some physicians feel the screenings could unnecessarily alarm patients by uncovering conditions that require invasive and riskier follow-up testing. The NPR segment includes comments from Mary Frank, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians; Bruce Friedman, a pathologist at the University of Michigan; Joe Scherger, a physician specializing in preventive medicine at the University of California-San Diego; U.S. residents who used mobile health screening units; and technicians working in the units (Aubrey, "Morning Edition," NPR, 8/11). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.