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Thursday, August 15, 2013

Increase in Urine Testing Raises Ethical Questions

By BARRY MEIER
The New York Times
Published: August 1, 2013

As doctors try to ensure their patients do not abuse prescription drugs, they are relying more and more on sophisticated urine-screening tests to learn which drugs patients are taking and — just as important — which ones they’re not.

The result has been a boom in profits for diagnostic testing laboratories that offer the tests. In 2013, sales at such companies are expected to reach $2 billion, up from $800 million in 1990, according to the Frost & Sullivan consulting firm.

The growing use of urine tests has mirrored the rise in prescriptions for narcotic painkillers, or opioids. But the tests, like earlier efforts to monitor opioid prescribing, have led to a host of vexing questions about what doctors should do with the information they obtain, about the accuracy of urine screens and about whether some companies and doctors are financially exploiting the testing boom.

The entire story is here.
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