- Self-Referral Increases Medical Costs
- Links for 2011-11-30
- More Europessimism
- Another European "Solution" Coming?
Posted: 30 Nov 2011 12:42 AM PST
This isn't a surprise -- we've known about this problem for a long time -- the question is why we haven't done something about it:
Self-referral leads to more negative exams for patients, EurekAlert: Physicians who have a financial interest in imaging equipment are more likely to refer their patients for potentially unnecessary imaging exams...
"Self-referral," whereby a non-radiologist physician orders imaging exams and directs patients to imaging services in which that physician has a financial interest, is a concerning trend in medicine and a significant driver of healthcare costs. "Self-referred medical imaging has been shown to be an important contributor to escalating medical costs," said Ben E. Paxton, M.D., radiology resident at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C. ...
Between 2000 and 2005, ownership or leasing of MRI equipment by non-radiologists grew by 254 percent, compared to 83 percent among radiologists. The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that the proportion of non-radiologists billing for in-office imaging more than doubled from 2000 to 2006. During that same time period, private office imaging utilization rates by non-radiologists who control patient referral grew by 71 percent.
For the study, the researchers set out to determine if utilization of lumbar spine MRI differs, depending on the financial interest of the physician ordering the exam. They reviewed 500 consecutive diagnostic lumbar spine MRI exams ordered by two orthopedic physician groups serving the same community. The first group had financial interest in the MRI equipment used (FI group), and the second had no financial interest in the equipment (NFI group). ...
"Orthopedic surgeons with financial interest in the equipment had a much higher rate of negative lumbar spine MRIs," Dr. Paxton said. "In addition, they were much more likely to order MRI exams on younger patients. This suggests that there is a different clinical threshold for ordering MRI exams in the setting of financial incentivization."
Dr. Paxton added that increased imaging utilization due to self-referral may not yield medically useful information and may place the patient at risk for potential adverse consequences.
"It is important for patients to be aware of the problem of self-referral and to understand the conflict of interest that exists when their doctor orders an imaging exam and then collects money on that imaging exam," he said.
Posted: 30 Nov 2011 12:06 AM PST
Posted: 29 Nov 2011 03:42 PM PST
One more from Tim Duy:
Posted: 29 Nov 2011 12:15 PM PST
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