Study: Specialists order more imaging within specialty

A new study suggests that physicians who refer patients for imaging within their own specialty order more often than physicians who refer to radiologists. The study, which appears in the November issue of Radiology, looked at a national database of outpatient visits for conditions that might call for imaging, including broken bones, heart problems and suspected stroke. When they analyzed the data, researchers found that doctors were ordering imaging as much as twice as often if they were referring to doctors in their own specialty. The study's authors suggest that this trend is at least partly due to physician self-referral to facilities in which they have an interest. Critics, for their part, have suggested that the study should have looked at the appropriateness of the tests chosen, rather than the mere volume of tests ordered.

To learn more about the research:
- read this article from The Boston Globe

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