A new study asks Orthopedic surgeons to guess the price of the devices they implant – “the amount your institution currently pays the vendor for the implant.” Despite a lenient grading system, in which the researchers counted as correct any guess within 20% of the actual price, surgeons estimated costs correctly only 1 in 5 times.
When I first glanced at this study, I wasn’t sure of its importance. But then I learned that orthopedic surgeons can often choose among a wide variety of devices to perform specific operations. There isn’t just one company making one type of pin, for example, to hold together a fractured fibula. Surgeons can choose between high cost and low cost alternatives. In a rational market, surgeons would consider whether the advantages of the high cost devices are worth the added price, a price, it should be noted, that is eventually paid for through tax dollars or insurance premiums, and in some cases is born by the patient receiving the procedure….(Read more and view comments at Forbes)