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Doctor-owned imaging centers spark criticism, scrutiny

Proponents of intensity-modulated radiation therapy 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. The Maryland Board of Physicians was set to announce Monday that radiation therapies such as IMRT for prostate cancer are covered by the state's "self-referral" law, which restricts doctors from referring patients to facilities in which they have a financial interest. The board's decision, which was made last week, means it will investigate complaints it receives about doctors allegedly referring patients for radiation therapies in violation of the law.
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