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Doctors should learn how to help manage healthcare costs

Los Angeles Times, September 20, 2011
There are six things that young doctors need to learn during their training period as interns and residents, starting with basics like acquiring "medical knowledge" and honing their "patient care" skills. The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education and the American Board of Medical Specialties make sure that doctors-in-training master these general competencies before they complete their residency training. One more item should be added to this list, according to Dr. Steven E. Weinberger, chief executive of the American College of Physicians: how to provide high-quality medical care without breaking the bank. It's certainly no secret that medical costs are rising out of control. In fact, the medical system already wastes as much as $700 billion a year on unnecessary tests, hospital visits that could have been prevented and other needless spending, according to the Institute of Medicine. That amounts to 30 cents of every healthcare dollar. In an essay published in Tuesday's edition of Annals of Internal Medicine, Weinberger writes that the problem is the No. 1 issue in medicine but that medical trainees have pretty much no idea how much it costs to do the tests they order or fill the prescriptions they write.

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