Companies are offering discounted health screening tests at gyms, churches and community centers, but doctors say patients should stay clear. Erik A. Wallace, MD, John H. Schumann, MD, and Steven E. Weinberger, MD, authored an opinion piece published in the Annals of Internal Medicine that says commercial screening tests are undermining physician efforts to provide cost-effective preventive care. Companies offering direct-to-consumer health screening tests have sprung up across the country offering various packaged tests that include lipid panels, glucose screenings, and ultrasonography tests. In many cases, the companies administer the tests in churches, fitness centers, or other community locations and the events are often sponsored by medical centers and physician groups. Although the companies claim their screenings prevent potentially deadly conditions, many of the authors say the benefits are minimal. “Although commercial screening services seem to respect patient autonomy, the failure to fully disclose the appropriate indications and consequences of testing is deceptive, because patients purchase these services with a false hope of benefit,” the authors wrote. The authors admit that tests to measure blood pressure, blood sugar, and lipid levels do offer “some proven benefit”, but without guidance from a doctor, patients may end up paying for follow up tests and treatments that they do not need. The authors’ major concern is with ultrasonography tests. Evidence shows patients with abnormal carotid ultrasonography results are no more likely to quit smoking than those with normal results or those who did not have an ultrasonography. In fact, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends against screening the general adult population for carotid artery stenosis because there is a moderate or high certainty that there is no net benefit or that the harms outweigh the benefits. Ultimately, the authors want commercial screening companies to inform patients of the potential risk and harm their test can cause. They also implore hospitals, medical centers, and physicians to stop sponsoring screening events. Other physicians on the web have echoed the sentiment including Kenny Lin, MD, writing for the Common Sense Family Doctor. What do you think?