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Are Health Care Providers Helping to Decrease Unnecessary Surgeries?

By Admin | June 09, 2016

Lower back pain seems to be getting worse and worse for adults in the United States. It is the fifth most common reason for adults to visit the doctor, as well as their most frequently reported discomfort.

This correlates with the documented rise of lumbar fusion and other back surgeries. In fact, between the years of 1993 and 2001, total lumbar fusions increased 356%.

Feeling that unnecessary surgeries were being performed, some health plan providers created policies requiring patients to meet with physiatrists before being referred to surgeons. The role of the physiatrist would be to attempt several other solutions before considering surgery.

During the seven year study, the number of lower back surgeries decreased across various health plans for adults between the ages of 18 and 65.

To learn more about this study in depth, read “The Impact of Commercial Health Plan Prior Authorization Programs on the Utilization of Services for Low Back Pain” in Spine Journal May 2016 - Volume 41 - Issue 9 - p 810–815.

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