Medicine: No More Battered Patients

Blue Cross urges curb on hospital lab tests

The routine is familiar to virtually everyone who has ever checked into a hospital. Almost as soon as the patient slips into a hospital gown, he or she faces the standard diagnostic assault. Aptly known in medical jargon as the admission battery, it includes such procedures as a chest X ray, electrocardiogram, blood-cell count, blood-chemistry analysis, venere al-disease test and urinalysis.

Now all that may soon change. Last week the national medical-insurance organization Blue Cross-Blue Shield, which pays medical bills for 112 million Americans, announced that it would pick up the tab for such tests...

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