Chicago— Evidence continues to mount showing that physicians with ownership stakes in imaging equipment are more likely to refer their patients for imaging tests than physicians who send their patients to radiologists for independent imaging. Studies presented here in November at the Radiological Society of North America's Scientific Assembly and Annual Meeting added to that evidence.
Most research looking at self-referral relies on claims data, which cannot determine the appropriateness of the imaging. This enables physicians who self-refer to argue that the patients they treat need these imaging tests more than patients of other physicians do because they are sicker or in greater pain. Researchers affiliated with Duke University Medical Center in Durham, NC, explored this argument and found it wanting.
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While magnetic resonance imaging can help diagnosis of lumbar spine problems, new research suggests ownership of such equipment spurs physicians to overutilize it.
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