In response to Jean DerGurahian's "Docs talk 'nighthawking' at RSNA":
The "nighthawking" issue has grown to a large issue for hospital-based radiologists. My hospital receives at least five to 10 calls a week from nighthawk services trying to undercut the night coverage we already have or to try and get us to send specialty imaging to themCT scans and MRIs in particular. I believe this type of service has its value to the radiologist, but to tout their access directly to the emergency department physicians and others is causing a hardship for hospital-based radiologists. Specialty over-reads are costing more than a hospital-based radiologist is getting paid to perform the procedure in the first place. Because of the reimbursement mix for hospitals that perform procedures for indigent and underinsured patients, hospitals are more often asked to supply the nighthawk service at its expense (for preliminary reads) and the radiologist gets to bill for the final read and keep any reimbursement. This causes hospitals, especially large, busy facilities, to have an additional loss leader, assisting in making imaging services a cost center rather than a revenue center. I believe this problem will become larger, as the Deficit Reduction Act's impact is felt by private radiology groups.
Jim ChadwickDirectorDiagnostic ImagingNorthwest Texas Healthcare SystemAmarillo To submit a letter to YOUR VIEWS, click here. Please include your name, title and hometown.