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Nonphysician Emergency Practitioners Order More Imaging Studies

Findings seen among Medicare beneficiaries, with simultaneous increase in share of nonphysician practitioners from 2005 to 2020

TUESDAY, Nov. 15, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Use of nonphysician practitioners (NPPs) in the emergency department is associated with higher imaging use, according to a study published online Nov. 10 in JAMA Network Open.

Eric W. Christensen, Ph.D., from the Harvey L. Neiman Health Policy Institute in Reston, Virginia, and colleagues used claims from 16.9 million emergency department visits by Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries (2005 to 2020) to assess whether the state share of emergency visits for which an NPP was the clinician of record is associated with imaging studies ordered.

The researchers found that the share of all emergency department visits with an NPP as the clinician of record increased from 6.1 percent in 2005 to 16.6 percent in 2020. The presence of NPPs in the emergency department was associated with 5.3 percent more imaging studies per visit, including a 3.4 percent greater likelihood of any imaging order per visit and 2.2 percent more imaging studies ordered per visit involving imaging compared with non-NPP-associated visits.

“Although expanded use of NPPs in the emergency department may improve patient access, the costs and radiation exposure associated with more imaging warrants additional study,” the authors write.

Two authors disclosed financial ties to the medical technology industry.

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