Sonoma County Medical Group Offers CT Scans to Patients Without Physician Referrals
The Redwood Regional Medical Group in Sonoma County is conducting CT scans on patients who do not have a referral from their doctor on certain nights of the week under a new program launched last month, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat reports. The scans, which cost $400 to $950, allow early detection of disease. Redwood Regional has launched a newspaper and radio advertising campaign to promote the InnerVision program to "healthy individuals who want to take charge of their health," Sharon DeBenedetti, Redwood Regional's COO said, adding that the "scans are not intended for use as a second opinion." Redwood Regional's decision to offer CT scans without a referral from a physician -- part of a "nationwide trend in preventive health" -- "has been accompanied by some controversy." Some critics have said that CT scans "produce a small percentage of false images" that could lead to "unnecessary treatment," and others question whether "some imaging centers are capitalizing on patients' health concerns in pursuit of their disposable income." Phillips said that Redwood Regional uses "highly trained" radiologists to prevent "inaccurate interpretation of questionable images." Dr. Bob Schultz, president of the Sonoma County Medical Association and the medical director at Kaiser Permanente, said, "It is technology that is out of the bag and has spread very quickly, even before it is properly studied whether it provides patients with any benefit. My concern is that these may turn into something that cause anxiety that is not necessary" (Rose, Santa Rosa Press Democrat, 3/4).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.