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.

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