CT Scans Are Overused – Over Exposure to Radiation and Additional Costs

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Overuse of CT scans

Several hospitals expose their patients to multiple CT scans on the same day. According to a majority of radiologists, there is no benefit of undertaking more than one CT scan per day. Almost eighty percent of the chest patients covered by Medicare were undergoing multiple scans. In comparison, the same rate in university teaching hospitals is below one percent. The overuse of CT scans has been in focus for several years; however, the recent data findings are causing major concerns.

Over-exposure to radiation is harmful

During 2008, roughly 75000 patients underwent two scans, one that used iodine contrast and the other in its absence. However, only one of the two are necessary and exposing patients to two scans is harmful. Besides adding to the cost of the treatment (on an already burdened Medicare program), the over-exposure to the radiation is dangerous. It is important to take note than one CT scan of the chest is equivalent to almost 350 regular chest X-rays, which increases the cost substantially.

Findings of the study

Sometimes, two CT scans can assist physicians in differentiate among tangled vessels and a tumor. The data showed that almost two hundred hospitals prescribed two scans to almost thirty percent of the Medicare patients. Moreover, the state wise distribution was also varied with Massachusetts being at one percent while Oklahoma at thirteen percent. Moreover, double scans are more prevalent in small community hospitals. To conclude, the additional Medicare costs for double CT scans cost $25 million in the year 2008.

Physicians want to diagnose correctly

The hospitals that show a high percentage of the number of patients who undergo two CT scans on the same day argued that the reason was to ensure that the ailment was diagnosed correctly. However, most hospitals agree that several of these patients do not require the second CT scan and can be avoided. Therefore, more number of healthcare service agencies are focusing on modifying their practices and protocols to reduce such instances.

Hospitals need to focus on bringing change

Often, hospitals argue that it the personal discretion of the physicians to prescribe multiple scans. However, experts say that the hospital administration must work to bring changes in the behavior of their doctors. Another reason that is often cited for the double scans is the increase in the revenue earned. However, most hospitals and physicians deny this as a cause for multiple scans.