CT Double-Scans Drop for Radiologists, But Not Nonradiologists

Radiologists are more likely to follow Medicare policy initiatives regarding CT double-scans than are nonradiologists.

Medicare policy initiatives regarding the use of thoracic and abdominal CT double-scans reduced the rate among radiologists, but not as much among nonradiologists, according to a study in the Journal of the American College of Radiology.

Researchers from the University of Colorado in Aurora, the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, and Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, GA, sought to examine trends in the relative utilization of double-scan CT before and after 2006 legislation mandating relevant Medicare reporting initiatives.

Data were obtained from the Medicare Physician Supplier Procedure Summary Master Files from 2001 through 2012 to identify claims for thoracic and abdominal CT examinations. The researchers looked for the use of double-scan CT between radiologists and nonradiologists.

The results showed that use of both CT examinations by radiologists were decreasing already in 2001 and continued to do so following the CMS mandate, while this was not the case with nonradiologists.

Change from 2001 to 2006

 Thoracic CTAbdominal CT
RadiologistsDecrease of 1.7%Decrease of 7.5%
NonradiologistsIncrease of 15.8%Increase of 23.6%

Change from 2006 to 2012

 Thoracic CTAbdominal CT
RadiologistsDecrease of 42.3%Decrease of 35.2%
NonradiologistsDecrease of 31.8%Decrease of 8.1%

“Double-scan rates were significantly lower for radiologists than nonradiologists for all years for abdominal CT and for all years after 2006 legislation for thoracic CT,” the authors wrote.

The researchers concluded that CMS initiatives designed to reduce costs and radiation exposure to patients influenced radiologists at greater rates than nonradiologists.