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Physician Self-Referrals

Mike Mitka, MSJ
JAMA. 2012;308(22):2327. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.111282.
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Physician self-referral for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) services is costing Medicare more than $100 million annually, reported the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

The GAO report, released October 31, looked at MRI and CT services from 2004 through 2010 and found the number of self-referred MRI services increased by more than 80%, compared with a 12% increase for MRI services that were not self-referred. For CT services, the GAO report found self-referred services more than doubled, while CT services that were not self-referred increased by about 30%. The report also found that physicians who began self-referring in 2009 increased MRI and CT referral on average by about 67% in 2010 compared with 2008; by contrast, the average number of referrals declined among physicians whose referral status did not change in that time, whether they were self-referrers or not (http://tinyurl.com/av9wfko).

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The American Medical Association is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The AMA designates this journal-based CME activity for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM per course. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. Physicians who complete the CME course and score at least 80% correct on the quiz are eligible for AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM.
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