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Capitol Health Call
September 11, 2013

Self-referral Boosts Costly Prostate Cancer Treatment

JAMA. 2013;310(10):1015. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.277231

The number of Medicare intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) services for prostate cancer performed by self-referring groups increased from about 80 000 in 2006 to 366 000 in 2010, reported the Government Accountability Office (GAO). Over the same period, IMRT services declined for non–self-referring groups.

Groups that began self-referring in 2008 or 2009 referred 54% of their patients who were diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2009 to IMRT, compared with 37% of patients diagnosed in 2007 (before they began self-referral). The GAO said financial incentives were likely a major factor driving the increased referral of patients to IMRT, and that the increase in services performed by self-referring groups was due entirely to groups comprising urologists and a small number of other specialties (http://tinyurl.com/mva6vx4).