Non-radiologists Drive High MSK Ultrasound Utilization

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Nonradiologists accounted for much of the higher utilization rates of musculoskeletal ultrasound from 2000 to 2009, based on a study in the February issue of the Journal of American College of Radiology.

The study looked at Medicare payment records and found musculoskeletal ultrasound volume increased from 56,254 procedures in 2000 to 233,964 in 2009. The increase was highest among non-radiologists, especially podiatrists, and for those physicians in office settings.

Richard E. Sharpe, MD, MBA, lead author of the study, says the findings raise concerns about self-referral, based on a press release.

"In a health care climate in which increased utilization deserves further scrutiny, this study has demonstrated significant utilization increases by specialties that are not traditional imaging providers and may be in a position to self-refer," Sharpe says, according to the release.