More MRIs may reignite debate

  • Article by: CHEN MAY YEE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 26, 2008 - 4:44 PM

As regulators track the rapid growth of medical imaging facilities, a new center with high-profile partners opens in Edina.

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eklodasJul. 26, 08 5:46 PM

Competition in the health care system was supposed to lower costs ---- obviously that hasn't worked and has only resulted in a lot of duplication of services --- just look at all the "heart centers" around! Maybe collaboration --- like these folks are trying to do is a better solution for everybody.

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ReggieJamesJul. 27, 08 4:52 AM

Even if they sell their old equipment, it still comes down to a net increase of equipment!

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twirlyangelJul. 27, 08 9:51 AM

Many, many patients expect imaging when it's probably not necessary. Thus, the doc orders the test... why? Fear that the minute possiblity that it won't be normal, and a potential lawsuit that would entail.

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mdreaderJul. 28, 08 7:06 AM

"A 2007 Health Department report said there was anecdotal evidence in Minnesota that physician investments in facilities led to financial conflicts of interest and overuse." This is a silly statement. The answer is self-evident that of course there is overuse. How could it be otherwise. Nevertheless, the issue must be proven. and it has, over and over. The author of the article is just not familiar with the evidence. There is ample evidence that when physicians refer to their own center that they order far more testing than if they were referring to an independent center. A recent study found that physicians ordering tests in their own facilities ordered between 1.1 and 3.2 TIMES as many studies as physicians sending patients to independent facilities. (see: http://www.jacr.org/article/S1546-1440(08)00058-6/fulltext). If you have been wondering why there are suddenly so many imaging centers, this is the reason. In part, this problem was created by federal regulations that decreased the physician reimbursement below a point that could sustain a practice, and physicians had to look for ancillary income. As a patient, how do you know that you really need a test that may be uncomfortable, that might have some risk associated, that might have radiation exposure associated, and that you might have to pay for when you know that the person telling you you need it stands to make up to $1000 just for suggesting it? The answer is you can't. This practice is a pox on medicine.

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adrazanJul. 28, 08 1:15 PM

What happened to the Stark law intoduced in the 80's. it prohibited people from owning imaging centers and referrring work there.

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mdreaderJul. 28, 08 9:01 PM

To be brief, the Stark law was so filled with loop holes that it never worked. There are multiple ways around it. ONe is the in-office exception that says if you put an imaging device in your office you can refer to it. THerefore, many of these are in the physicians offices. Another loop hole allows the physician to lease time on an existing machine. So they may lease an hour here and there and send their patients at that time, reaping profit for essentially no risk. Again, this is an embarrassment to medicine.

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