March 21, 2012- No one wants to be fully alert when going through a colonoscopy. However, new research indicates that too many patients are receiving unnecessary sedation treatment during the exam. That in turn is costing over $1 billion annually.
In recent years, anesthesiologists have been used to monitor the sedation of patients during colonoscopies and other imaging tests for the digestive system. Most often, they are used for patients that are low risk and do not need additional sedation.
Researchers from Rand Corp., which performed the research, said the services were harming patients and giving them something that is not necessary. They said this abuse comes when rising medical costs are trying to be reined in.
For the procedure, patients are sedated for a brief time. Some types of sedation require the presence of a specialist to monitor them. Those include propofol, an intravenous medication that causes deep sedation. The use of this medication is suggested for high risk patients, including the elderly and sick.
However, many low risk patients are receiving the medication and researchers called it unnecessary and very costly. The researchers received their data through the examination of insurance claims from over six million adults in the U.S. who received colon exams between 2003 and 2009.