Healthcare News & Insights

Study: Docs who own facilities treat patients differently

Whether or not you need knee surgery may depend on if your surgeon has an ownership stake in the local surgical center.

New research reveals that orthopedic surgeons who have an interest in specialty hospitals or ambulatory surgical centers are more likely to schedule patients for surgery. Significantly more. Patients treated by an owner-doc were 54% to 129% more likely to have carpal tunnel repair, 33% to 100% more likely to have rotator cuff repair, and 27% to 78% more likely to have arthroscopic surgery.

Federal law doesn’t allow physicians to refer Medicare and Medicaid patients to centers that the doctor has an ownership stake in. And most states have similar laws to protect private insurance patients.

But those laws don’t include specialty facilities or ambulatory surgical centers.

The study, which appears in the Archives of Surgery, looked at patients treated in Idaho between 2003 and 2007.

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