Quote: Self-referrals

Docs and dollars: This one’s a twofer. The first is a hotly-discussed NEJM paper showing that urologists (not radiation oncologists, as we’ve covered earlier) owning a stake in radiation therapy equipment tend to recommend that equipment more often than docs without an ownership stake. The second is a less-publicized government report showing that surgeons with a stake in device distributors also recommend those devices more than other surgeons. This shouldn’t surprise anyone — doctors are human, after all. The Stark laws designed to prevent physician self-referral, for some reason, make an exception for the IMRT conflict-of-interest in the first paper. And I don’t think any legislation foresaw the physician-owned-distributorships in the second article.

Karan Chhabra, Project Millennial


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