Last time, we began discussing the overuse of medical scanning, particularly CT scans, and concerns about long-term risks for patients. At present, there is no consensus as to the degree of risk of diagnostic scanning, and some feel that any such risk is far outweighed by the benefits. Some studies, though, have drawn a correlation between CT scanning and later cancer development, though.
Whatever the case may be with respect to the risks, physicians always have to be conscientious in ordering diagnostic scanning for patients. While the use of scanning is widespread and often done in order to avoid medical malpractice litigation, physicians should ensure they are always practicing within the bounds of what is considered standard practice. At the very least, physicians need to be sure their use of diagnostic scanning is not unreasonable, unsafe, or abusive, as this could potentially put their license at risk.
In a previous post, we looked at a number of grounds on which the Minnesota medical board is able to pursue discipline against a physician. Several of the grounds we mentioned were lack of ability to practice medicine with reasonable skill and safety, improper referral for services or tests, and abusive or fraudulent billing practices. In cases where a physician is found to have made use of diagnostic testing in an unreasonable or unsafe manner, improperly, or as part of an effort to engage in fraudulent billing—such as billing for medically unnecessary services—the state medical board can step in and take disciplinary action.
While a physician would have to be well outside the bounds of what is considered standard practice in order to run the risk of discipline, the line can be fine. When a physician does run into problems in this area, it is important to work with an experienced attorney to ensure his or her rights are protected.