Important Information About Doctors and Self-Referral Fees

As health care patients, we always hope that our doctors have our best interests at heart. We expect that our doctors will treat us to the best of their abilities, explore various options before prescribing us with treatment, and in the case of needing different medical services, that our doctors will refer us to the clinics that are best equipped to assist us.

However, as much as we can hope for these things, doctors’ offices and specialty clinics are still businesses, and sometimes (as with any business) dollar signs can result in jaded decisions. Of course, a doctor would never make a decision that would put a patient at risk, but there are times when a patient should be wary of whom their doctors are referring them to.

Patients should always be sure to do their research before they follow through with a clinic referral from their doctors; if both the testing clinic and the doctor’s clinic are owned by the doctor, chances are that your doctor will be receiving a cut of the referral.

According to Gordon Guyatt, Distinguished Professor of medicine at McMaster University in Hamilton, the medical literature is “extremely consistent that when there is the opportunity for self-referral, more tests get ordered.”

So before you follow through with a test referral, do your research. Ask why the test is being referred, and ask if there are multiple options for the test. In the end, if it’s in the best interest of your health to complete the test, there’s nothing wrong with following through!