Making A Profit From Self-Referrals

Ownership of clinics by doctors is helping run up the U.S. medical bill

THE GROWING TREND FOR PHYSICIANS TO INVEST IN the clinics, treatment centers and laboratories to which they send their patients -- a practice known as self-referral -- is blamed by many experts for contributing to excessive treatment and soaring national health-care costs. Two reports in the New England Journal of Medicine provide new ammunition for the critics. In one, researchers analyzed 6,581 California workers' compensation cases and found that physiotherapy was recommended twice as often by physicians with a stake in physical-therapy centers as by doctors who had no financial ties to the facilities. Moreover, 38% of body scans ordered by...

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