West Virginia approves physician-owned CT scanners

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West Virginia Health Care Authority members unanimously approved standards on Wednesday that doctors' offices must meet before the state allows them to buy and use CT scanners, reported The Charleston Gazette. The authority plans to submit the standards to Governor Joe Manchin, who has 30 days to grant final approval.

The West Virginia State Medical Association said that physicians who want to install the systems in their facilities outside the hospital would be able to diagnose diseases earlier and potentially save lives.

Hospitals remain opposed to that idea, saying it will cost them tens of millions of dollars a year. Charleston Area Medical Center, for instance, estimates it will lose $45 million annually, according to The Charleston Gazette.  The state authority plans to regulate the CT scanners that physicians purchase.

The Charleston Gazette
reported that under the proposed regulations, cardiologists who use expensive CT angiography machines would have to prove they perform at least 700 scans a year to keep the scanners. Other physician specialists who buy multi-use imaging equipment would have to prove that they ordered at least 3,500 scans a year by the end of three years. Otolaryngologists who buy smaller scanners, or mini-CTs, would face even less scrutiny, because the machines produce minimal amounts of radiation.

According to The Gazette, physicians would only have to notify the authority 30 days before they start providing imaging services. The state standards also require physicians to provide financial records related to costs and payments for medical imaging services.