Costly Tests on the Elderly


In a new scam uncovered by the WSJ, “doctors are testing seniors for drugs such as heroin, cocaine and ‘angel dust’ at soaring rates, and Medicare is paying the bill.”  This is being done by pain specialists who can now make more by testing than they can from treating.  In fact, Medicare’s spending on 22 high-tech tests for drugs of abuse hit $445 million in 2012, up 1,423% in five years.  One doctor they interviewed, Dr. Robert Wadley, received $1.4 million for drug tests on his own patients.  Are you f%cking kidding me?   You can go out of business as a primary doc listening to too Medicare patients in a day trying to bill a 99214 and yet these guys are making millions over ordering tests!  I think I am going to be sick.

Douglas Farrago MD

Douglas Farrago MD is a full-time practicing family doc in Forest, Va. He started Forest Direct Primary Care where he takes no insurance and bills patients a monthly fee. He is board certified in the specialty of Family Practice. He is the inventor of a product called the Knee Saver which is currently in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The Knee Saver and its knock-offs are worn by many major league baseball catchers. He is also the inventor of the CryoHelmet used by athletes for head injuries as well as migraine sufferers. Dr. Farrago is the author of four books, two of which are the top two most popular DPC books. From 2001 – 2011, Dr. Farrago was the editor and creator of the Placebo Journal which ran for 10 full years. Described as the Mad Magazine for doctors, he and the Placebo Journal were featured in the Washington Post, US News and World Report, the AP, and the NY Times. Dr. Farrago is also the editor of the blog Authentic Medicine which was born out of concern about where the direction of healthcare is heading and the belief that the wrong people are in charge. This blog has been going daily for more than 15 years Article about Dr. Farrago in Doximity Email Dr. Farrago – [email protected] 

  4 comments for “Costly Tests on the Elderly

  1. Pat
    November 15, 2014 at 10:24 am

    That’s hilarious.

  2. Steve_O'_
    November 15, 2014 at 9:35 am

    Careful, Doug. One of the government’s favorite games is to mandate useless actions, and then bash people for following the rules.
    Many legislatures have run with medical fascism in pain management and narcotic diversion control. If Mrs. S_ is on hospice, no matter – the Legislature has mandated regular urine tests to make sure she’s not diverting!
    It’s very similar to the attitude in California where one of the biggest risks of drug abuse is seen to be physicians! Here is a recent proposition, thankfully voted down by the public…
    “1. Protecting the safety of patients is of paramount interest to the public.
    2. Substance abuse by doctors is a growing problem in California and harms more and more patients every year. Last year, the Medical Board of California reported that it had suspended more physicians than it had the year before…
    3. Studies find that at least one in ten physicians suffers from drug or alcohol abuse during his or her career. According to an article in the Annals of Internal Medicine, one third of physicians will, at some time in their careers, experience a condition, including alcohol or drug abuse….
    4. Physicians who are impaired by drugs and alcohol while on the job pose a serious threat to patients and to the public at large. By one estimate cited in the Journal of the American Medical Association, one third of all hospital admissions experience a medical error…
    5. Studies show that a small percentage of doctors, including those who abuse drugs and alcohol, commit the vast majority of malpractice and go undeterred…
    6. Patients are also being harmed by doctors who over prescribe prescription drugs and fail to prevent prescription drug abuse. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that drug overdose is the leading cause of fatal injury , and most of those deaths are caused by prescription drugs,…

    That last sentence is not a slick edit. The leading cause of fatal injury in California is alleged to be drug overdose. Evidently the state has no motor vehicles. But whatever, doctors are sued for undertreating pain, and overtreating pain. The only modern solution is to turf away pain patients. How awful!

    • Doug Farrago
      November 15, 2014 at 10:19 am

      I agree with you but anytime some doc makes that much money off my taxes then I have to scream bullshit.

    • Randy
      November 15, 2014 at 11:24 am

      I have to agree. After the pain iniative days 15 years ago the pendulum has swung back too far the other direction. Medical boards and legislatures are encouraging all this testing. Maybe this doc is going overboard but it’s hard to fault him.

      I turn away new patients on narcotics and am hoping to refer out as many of my current pain patients as I can. It stinks that I have to refer out patients that I know how to treat but this is the current legal climate.

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