Radiologists least likely to violate drug prescribing laws

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Radiologists were the least likely of the major medical specialties to be excluded from U.S. public insurance programs for fraud and unlawful prescribing or abuse of drugs, according to a study published online December 14 in JAMA Network Open.

The researchers, led by first author Alice Chen, PhD, from the University of Southern California, examined the characteristics of all physicians denied access to Medicare and state public insurance programs from 2007 to 2017 for healthcare crimes. A combined 2,222 physicians (0.3%) were excluded during this time frame, and the number of excluded physicians increased by approximately 20% each year.

Only 54 radiologists (0.15%) faced insurance exclusion, with an adjusted odds ratio of 0.76 -- the lowest among physicians of all specialties. Cardiology was the second least likely specialty to be excluded, with an odds ratio of 0.84.

Exclusion rates were greatest for psychiatry (odds ratio of 2.38), family medicine (2.21), and obstetrics and gynecology (1.86). An increased likelihood of insurance exclusion was also associated with several physician characteristics: male gender, old age, and osteopathic training.

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