"Scandal" with "perverse incentives": Critics of MD-owned IMRT radiation centers

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Before the week wraps up, I want to draw attention to an important story in the Washington Post from the start of the week, “Doctor-owned centers spark criticism, scrutiny.”

It’s about urologists across the country opening centers that offer men with prostate cancer “an expensive, relatively new treatment known as intensity-modulated radiation therapy, or IMRT.” Further excerpt:

“Proponents of such centers argue that they bring together specialists to help patients make the best-informed decisions and that IMRT can be lifesaving. But the centers have become the focus of rising scrutiny. Critics charge that they are a disturbing development in an alarming trend: doctors in many specialties referring patients to facilities in which they have a financial interest, possibly leading to unneeded and sometimes dangerous procedures and adding to the nation’s bloated medical bill.”

Read the full story to hear more from both critics and defenders of the practice.

See some past stories about IMRT on this blog.

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Michael Franks

March 4, 2011 at 1:05 pm

This appears still to be legal under stark laws as put forth in recent NY times article about similar
scenario. Perhaps reduced reimbursements will reduce utilization – worked for Lupron/LHRH. In no way has the news article demonstrated any malice or overutilization by these guys, so the bias of this title as scandalous is misrepresentative
BTW: How is this any different than hospitals vertically integrating (which is the trend) and self referring to their radiation profit centers? This is what happens all the time, and large “independent” groups have then to compete. Welcome to America
Also, I suspect this reputable Baltimore group is still doing surgery and seeds or active surveillance in an individualized fashion as most of us do, without much financial gain