This month’s issue of Virtual Mentor, the AMA’s online ethics journal, examines the causes of unwarranted variations and the effects they have on the cost and quality of care.

For the last several decades, geographic differences in the type and amount of medical services U.S. patients receive have come under increased scrutiny by physicians, policymakers and those who pay for medical care. Variations that do not appear to correlate with differences in patient demographics or the severity of their disease burden are termed “unwarranted.” 

February Virtual Mentor contributors try to identify solutions to unwarranted variations, from more research into the effectiveness of drugs, devices and diagnostic services, to quality-based models for physician payment.

Some issue highlights:

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