Patient Safety Website

The American Imaging Management (“AIM”), a Wellpoint subsidiary, has created an innovative web site that advises patients about the amount of radiation that they will receive from specific CT, PET scans and other nuclear medicine tests. For instance, I had a sinus CT last year. According to this site, that’s the equivalent of 100 chest x-rays or half a year of sunlight. This site also suggests alternatives, such as endoscopy in my case. The AMA News published an article critical of the website:

Some doctors said they suspect AIM could be trying to create doubt in patients’ minds about the safety of tests to save money for its health plan clients, and they aren’t comfortable with what they see as interference with the doctor-patient relationship.
Aimee isn’t giving accurate and complete data, the doctors said, because the Web site doesn’t allow for variance in equipment, or patient gender, age or weight. It doesn’t give users a full risk-benefit analysis of a diagnostic test. “This is not a service to anyone,” said Richard L. Morin, PhD, chair of the American College of Radiology Safety Committee.

The medical authorities quoted in the article would support an “unbiased” website. The Center for Studying Health System Change issued a brief on this issue titled Health Plans Target Advanced Imaging Services: Cost, Quality and Safety Concerns Prompt Renewed Oversight in February.