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Not Needed, and Pricey

Unneeded genetic tests may be costing the US public upwards of $500 million a year, Stat News reports.

Researchers from the University of Michigan note in a Journal of Hospital Medicine review that testing for inherited thrombophilia isn't recommended in most clinical settings and that results typically don't influence patients' treatment. "It really is one of these tests where there is no benefit to patients in the hospital," author Christopher Petrilli from the University of Michigan tells Stat News.

Still, Petrilli and his colleagues write that the test still gets ordered. They report that 280,000 claims for thrombophilia analysis, such as FVL, PT20210, and MTHFR gene mutations analysis, were submitted under Medicare Part B in 2014. That, they add, is at a cost of between $300 million and $672 million. Stat News adds that additional claims were likely filed with private insurers.

The president of the American College of Physicians, Nitin Damle, tells Stat News that physicians need to discuss the risks and benefits of testing with patients. "You can explain to them that getting a test is not going to change therapy and that it's just going to lead to more anxiety, unclear results, and more testing," he says.