When the superficial attraction of the latest equipment outpaces our knowledge of its value, the results can be costly
The United States government, concerned about increasing health care costs and unsure about the claims made about some recent technologies, is weighing a proposal that would ask federally funded researchers to prove that new machines are indeed better than their precursors before they become widely used.

"The fact is, as technologies emerge, they are driven by those who introduce them - by industry," says Herbert Abrams, professor of radiology at Stanford University and chairman of an Institute of Medicine panel that issued a report late last year on the state of medical technology assessment. The report, "Assessment of Diagnostic Technology in Health Care," from the Council on Health Care Technology, found much to be upset about. Data collection for large-scale clinical studies may be slipshod or may not follow prescribed methodology,...

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