Is Mall Medicine Good Medicine?

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Linda and George Roberts came to a mall near Phoenix eager to spend a couple of thousand dollars, but they're not shopping. You could say they're just looking, reports CBS News Corespondent Richard Schlesinger.

And that's great, especially for this trip to the mall. Linda and George have come here, not for Neiman Marcus, but for the place next door: AmeriScan, a storefront CAT scan operation that offers customers full body scans — a chance to browse through their own insides.

They said they decided to give themselves CAT scans for Christmas because they're both turning 40.

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This mall-based CAT scan offers one-stop shopping for people concerned about the health of all their major organs. Patients don't need a referral from a doctor…they don't even need any symptoms.

When asked if they had any unexplained pains or bumps, the Roberts said, "No, No. I think that, turning 40, we want to establish a baseline, basically to measure from here forward."

For close to $1,000 each the Roberts' get a 15-minute session with a state of the art CAT scan under the supervision of Radiologist Dr. Craig Bittner.

"Everybody is comfortable in malls. So, the nice thing is that when we sit down with someone in this environment, they're not anxious or uptight, in fact they're very comfortable," said Dr. Bittner.

These mass-marketed full body scans are controversial in the radiology community.

"The examination may miss a finding. The examination may detect an insignificant finding that the patient feels is significant," said Dr. James Borgstede of the American College of Radiology.

Despite what other radiologists say, this form of "Mall Medicine" has struck a chord with patients and shoppers. Dr. Bittner set up shop here last July and has already scanned about a thousand people — sometimes more than 15 a day.

And there are other centers around the country offering full bodscans for anyone who is worried.

"I think our services sell themselves," said Dr. Bittner. "Who doesn't want to know if there's a problem? How can you not want to know if there's an early cancer that can bed treated and your life saved?"

At the beginning of their visit to the mall, the Roberts said they weren't expecting to find anything — and they didn't.

"It actually was very interesting to see all that. You don't think about your organs every day," admitted George.

And Linda felt the same way: "I was surprised at how our organs looked so similar," she said.

This could be a new form of retail therapy, where the healthy and wealthy buy nothing but peace of mind.


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  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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