Watchdog Group Accuses Health Screening Company of "Fear Mongering"

Public Citizen claims HealthFair's screenings are unnecessary and unethical

By Artie Ojeda and Andie Adams
|  Sunday, Jun 22, 2014  |  Updated 7:29 AM PDT
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A company that partners with hospitals to provide health care screenings is getting blasted by a consumer watchdog group, accusing the company of

A company that partners with hospitals to provide health care screenings is getting blasted by a consumer watchdog group, accusing the company of "fear mongering," as NBC 7's Artie Ojeda reports.

 A company that partners with hospitals to provide health care screenings is getting blasted by a consumer watchdog group, accusing the company of “fear mongering.”

According to its website, HealthFair touts mobile health screenings that offer discounted tests performed in buses near partner hospitals.

But watchdog group Public Citizen calls HealthFair’s screening programs unethical and unnecessary, and it is urging 20 hospitals across the country – including Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center – to sever ties with the company.

“This particular company that the watchdog is looking at right now is doing a lot of cardiovascular tests, frankly that most people don’t need,” said San Diego Dr. Ted Mazer.

For example, HealthFair’s advertised $179 basic package, which it says is valued at $2,300, includes six screenings like echocardiograms and electrocardiograms.

Mazer told NBC 7 the problem is the mobile screenings are not focused or based on patient symptoms.

“You have to have focused use of these tests,” said Mazer, “and you have to make sure someone is looking at the data carefully and educating the patient as to what that means, not scaring them into having a test or scaring them into doing the next test.”

In response to Public Citizen, HealthFair issued a 17-page response. It says its workers have screened more than one million people and often detected life-threatening diseases.

The company says it provides patients with the choice to obtain further testing.

Sharp Chula Vista hosted four events with HealthFair in May and June, a spokesperson said.

In light of the watchdog report, the medical center released this statement:

“While it is still too early for us to evaluate any results from the four screening events held over the past month, no future screening dates are planned.”

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