I have noticed that doing MRIs has become a part of emergency medicine. I can remember a time when we NEVER did MRIs in the ER. It just wasn't done. Now I would say we probably do 10 a day. Most of them are brain MRIs for dizziness and some for strokes. Lets say an average MRI costs about 1,000 dollars (they vary widely in price). So thats 10,000 dollar a day x 365 days = $3,650,000 a year. That's just in the ER. Think about the inpatient and outpatient MRIs being done. Our hospital has 3 MRIs. I work in a large hospital. Lets say each scanner does 20 MRIs a day. $1,000 x 60 = $60,000 a day x 260 days (eliminating weekends) = $15,600,000 a year. So thats about $20,000,000 a year off the MRI department.
Consider the other tests that are now done routinely like CT cardiac angios. If you have a hint of family history, take cholesterol pill, have high BP, off you go. CTs are another big source of income, especially CT abdomens which are routine.
When you look at the money being made, you can see why all of these tests are ordered:
1) more money for hospital
2) bumps up level of care in ER = more money for docs
Lots and lots of these tests are unnecessary. I wonder if with all the changes coming in health care if this fleecing of the hospital patient will stop.