A "screening" EKG

Companies are trying to take advantage of the pro-screening bias in the public. Charging patients for a “screening” EKG is pretty close to fraud, as an EKG by itself is pretty insensitive for many heart diseases:

In early June, Rae Ann Jacek, president of a parent teacher organization in Chelmsford, Mass., and a member of the town’s school board, plunked down almost $300 for heart tests for her three children ““ 13, 16, 18 ““ her husband, and herself.

Jacek was one of about 100 town residents, including 2,200 children in the school district, and among a growing number of people across the region who are using the services of Andover, Mass., company, HeartScreen America, to reassure themselves that they and their loved ones don’t run the risk of a sudden cardiac arrest.

For Jacek and the members of her family, the results were normal ““ a report the parent and school official said was well worth its price. The company charged $49 for adolescent screenings and $69 for adult heart screenings.

But many question the value of private sector screenings, including Dr. Natacha Sochat, medical director for the Nashua public health department.

“An EKG by itself can give a false sense of security,” Sochat said during a telephone interview, adding that only “a small number of kids” have problems that can be detected with the test.

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