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Friday, November 1, 2013

Prevention For Profit: Questions Raised About Some Health Screenings

Today's post was shared by Kaiser Health News and comes from

Messiah United Methodist Church in Springfield, Va., is unusually busy for a Thursday morning. It's not a typical time for worship, but parishioner Stacy Riggs and her husband have come for something a little different: a medical screening.

"I'm getting ready to turn 50 sooner than I'd like to say, and just thought it was a good time to get an overall screening," said Riggs, of Fairfax, Va. She doesn't have any symptoms, but she stopped by the church, which is offering a day of testing by the company Life Line Screening as a service to parishioners.

(Photo by Jenny Gold)
Life Line Screening medical assistant Kennea Blake prepares Stacy Riggs for an atrial fibrillation screening at Messiah United Methodist Church in Springfield, Va.

For less than $200, Riggs is getting six different screenings for stroke, heart disease and osteoporosis. Life Line says they've checked 8 million Americans this way at churches and community centers, and up to 10 percent of them are found to have some sort of abnormality.

But several of the tests performed by Life Line are on a list of procedures for healthy people to avoid.

The tests can potentially do more harm than good, according to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, an independent panel that recommends evidence-based treatments. Even though the screening tests may be noninvasive, follow-up exams and procedures often are not, and can increase a person's odds of being injured or over treated.

One of those tests is the carotid artery...
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