Lining docs' pockets
USA TODAY believes that doctors should swear off owning
If you go to a doctor, you want him to think of you as a patient, not a cash
But two studies in this month's New England Journal of Medicine show
that some doctors are out to milk you dry.
They do it by sending patients to get unnecessary tests and treatment at
clinics in which they have a financial stake.
An analysis of 6,581 workers' compensation cases in California, for example,
>Doctors with money in physical therapy centers were twice as likely as other
doctors to order patients to get physical therapy.
>While doctors generally order psychological tests of patients who complain
of job stress, the bills for treatment averaged $672 more if doctors had investments
in such clinics.
>Doctors using imaging centers they invested in ordered unnecessary MRI scans
more often than other doctors did did.
A similar study of doctor-owned treatment centers in Florida found much the
What it all adds up to is billions of dollars and millions of hours of waste.
A new federal law this year protects taxpayers by barring the practice of
physician referral of Medicare and Medicaid patients to labs that the doctor
Private patients and their insurers need similar protection.
At a minimum, the American Medical Association should renew an ethics statement
condemning such conflict of interest that it withdrew last year.
Better yet, the Clinton administration should embrace President Bush's proposal
to bar this as a form of medical malpractice.
Doctors should see their patients as people, not dollar signs.
ARTICLE: Doctors Fined for Fight in Operating Room
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