The Maryland Court of Appeals upheld provisions of the state’s self-referral law prohibiting physicians from referring patients for MRI, CT, and radiation therapy services to providers within their own group practice.

“The Maryland court has provided a tremendous public service with this ruling. Studies have shown that there is very little, if any, patient benefit to self-referral of advanced imaging and radiation therapy. Instead, the practice often results in significant unnecessary utilization of imaging, unwarranted radiation exposure, lower quality of care, and increased cost that is ultimately passed on to patients,” said John A. Patti, MD, chair of the American College of Radiology board of chancellors.

The Maryland high court ruled that the state board of physicians was entitled to administrative deference on interpreting and applying the self-referral statute to its administers. The court also clarified that the law’s “direct supervision” exception, which is limited to referrals to “outside entities,” requires that the referring physician be “personally present within the treatment area when the service is being performed” and must personally provide that service or directly supervise it.