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OB/GYN Pushes Doctors To Think About Cost

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, August 15, 2013

Increasingly, physicians are speaking out against wasteful spending on needless medical treatments. At her South Carolina hospital, Lauren Demosthenes, MD, is targeting "low hanging fruit that doesn't hurt the patient or the doctor."


Lauren Demosthenes, MD


Lauren Demosthenes, MD

There seems to be no shortage of tales about wasted dollars in healthcare.

Last week, I wrote about a $20 test that became a poster child for needless, yet costly hospital treatments as explained by a San Francisco physician crusading to change healthcare's profligate spending habit.

This week another proponent of wiser spending, OB/GYN Lauren Demosthenes, MD, gives examples of wasteful care practices embedded in the obstetric suites of Greenville Memorial Hospital in South Carolina, and probably at most other hospitals across the country.

Take Cervidil, a product that hastens cervical dilation in women whose labor is about to be induced. Greenville Memorial charged $810 for a drug it bought for $354.42.

A pill called Cytotec, for which the hospital charged $4.20 and paid $2.28, does the job just as well, Demosthenes says.

Then there's Epifoam, a topical anesthetic to reduce inflammation and pain from stitches after an episiotomy or laceration during delivery. Greenville routinely gave Epifoam to about 222 women per month after birth, and charged $154.40 for this product, which it bought for $44.06. Yet a simple icepack and pain relievers like ibuprofen would get the job done just the same, Demosthenes says.

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