Annual Testing - Vitamin D

 

 

Annual Testing – Vitamin D

The Physician Alliance is committed to helping provide appropriate use of healthcare services and tests to improve patient care, while also working to lower costs.

ABOUT THIS MEASURE:

In the last fifteen years, low vitamin D levels have been linked to cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and a host of other maladies that resulted in doctors performing routine vitamin D tests in healthy patients.  But according the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), there is no good reason to do that.  One blood test for vitamin D is not impressive, but collectively, the cost becomes significant.  In 2015, Medicare spent $337 million on vitamin D tests for seniors, up from $323 million the previous year. 

According to Choosing Wisely, a vitamin D test does not typically improve treatment.  The following conditions are the only identified risks justifying a vitamin D test:

  • Osteoporosis: Bones become weak with this disease and are more likely to break
  • Any disease that damages your body’s ability to use vitamin D like chronic conditions of the digestive system such as inflammatory bowel disease, celiac disease, kidney disease, liver disease, pancreatitis, and others.

View and download vitamin D testing patient education poster.

The USPSTF concludes that "the current evidence is insufficient to assess the balance of benefits and harms of screening for vitamin D deficiency in asymptomatic adults". USPSTF also recommends against daily supplementation with 400 IU or less of vitamin D and 1,000 mg or less of calcium for the primary prevention of fractures in community- dwelling, postmenopausal women.

Sources: Choosing Wisely, U.S. Preventative ServicesTask Force