Your physician’s financial ties could be a deciding factor in whether or not you receive an expensive MRI scan for lower back pain. Physicians who own the equipment are more likely to order the scans.
CHICAGO — There may be good reason to ask about financial ties if your doctor orders an expensive imaging test for your aching back: Patients whose physicians own the equipment are more likely to get scans they might not need than those whose doctors have no financial interest, a small study suggests.
Researchers analyzed reports on 500 MRI scans performed on patients with lower back pain that had been sent for review to Duke University. Of the scans with normal results, 106 were ordered by orthopedic surgeons who owned the machines versus 57 by doctors without financial ties.
The normal scans accounted for about half of those ordered by surgeons with financial connections, compared with about a quarter in the other group. The authors only examined the scans, so there’s no information on the patients’ medical history or outcome.
But the results suggest that some doctors who own MRI scanners use them excessively on patients who probably don’t need them, to help pay for the expensive equipment and make a… continue reading
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