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Uninformed patients tend to have more invasive surgeries

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, December 13, 2012
A new study by a nationally acclaimed research group suggests that whether or not a patient undergoes a mastectomy may depend largely on where she lives. The statistical report, sponsored by the Dartmouth Atlas Project and released Wednesday, found significant variations in the use of certain surgeries on Medicare patients in national, regional and local markets. Shannon Brownlee, the study's lead author and an instructor at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice, attributes the differences to physicians who impose their preferences on uninformed patients. "Many patients are not even aware that elective surgeries are a matter of choice," Brownlee said in a conference call.