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Monday, March 2, 2009

Magnetic Resonance Imagination

According to the Times, when it comes to MRI's, the best medical care money can buy is no better than the worst. 

Well, it's probably better than the WORST care, which would presumably involve leeches and sharpened sticks, but it's no better than the most mediocre care.

It seems that whether a medical scan is performed by a trained technician in a state-of-the-art facility or by a college dropout named Gummo in his father's garage, insurance companies pay the same.

What struck the Solipsist about this news item was the fact that there are no real standards for MRI technicians.  Certification programs exist, but, as of now anyway, certification is not required for a scanning facility to operate.  This leads to a hit-or-miss testing regime, where some patients may receive excellent care and others may be left to have unnecessary surgery based on inconclusive scans.

The idea of "inconclusive scans" is particularly troubling.  YNSHC is no doctor, but one would think the ability to look at what is essentially an x-ray and say, "Yes, there's a problem with that muscle" or "No, you're fine, get back to work you slacker" would not require advanced training--or, that if it DID require advanced (say, medical) training, a doctor would be able to do it.  But apparently, MRI scans are little better than anatomical Rorschach tests.  Your bones and muscles are biological inkblots, open to interpretation, any of which are more or less valid (at least from an insurer's perspective).

So maybe that's the kind of training aspiring MRI techs need:  "OK, Chad, now, if you think the MRI looks like a bunny riding a turtle, then the patient has a torn meniscus.  If it looks like a butterfly, it's a simple strain.  And you're sexually frustrated."

Yahoo! News reports that Rachael Ray does not regret a "racy" photo shoot she did for FHM Magazine back in 2003.

No word yet on whether FHM has any regrets.

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