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The rise of reimbursement-based medicine: the case of bone metastasis radiation treatment


It has been hypothesised that the reimbursement system pertaining to radiotherapy is influencing prescription practices for patients with cancer with bone metastases. In this paper, we present and discuss the results of an empirical study that was undertaken on patient records, referred to radiotherapy for the treatment of bone metastases, in a medium-size city, in southern Brazil, during the period of March 2006 to March 2014. Our findings seem to confirm this hypothesis: after a change in the reimbursement method, radiation prescriptions were adapted accordingly, in order to maximise profits. Once such patients become highly vulnerable due to their diagnoses, they also become susceptible to a subtle form of exploitation; physicians let patients believe that more radiation will be better for their health, and they do so despite knowing otherwise, and as it seems, out of pecuniary interests.

  • ethics
  • nuclear power/radiation
  • professional misconduct

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