Docs who own scanners order more tests | On Call

December 22, 2011 by MassDevice staff

Doctors who own equipment order more negative scans than doctors with no financial interest in the imaging equipment.

MassDevice On Call

MASSDEVICE ON CALL — Doctors with a financial interest in imaging equipment may order more unnecessary tests, according to a study by the Radiological Society of North America.

Patients that were referred for scans by docs who owned their own equipment had 86% more negative scans than patients referred by doctors with no financial stake in the equipment.

Medicare dramatically increased spending for diagnostic imaging in the last decade, and ⅔ of that money goes to doctors, lead researcher Dr. Ben Paxton told MedPage Today.

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"We're not saying these studies are necessarily unnecessary, but when there's a clear difference between the scans ordered for these two groups, and the only difference is whether the [clinician] owns the scanner, that makes you think there's a tie," Dr. Ramsey Kilani, advisor on the research, told the website. "We're not sure if it's conscious or unconscious."

Kilani called for more transparent and structured laws about scanner ownership, but said congressional action would be needed to modify existing loopholes.