Overuse of CT scans is dangerous and expensive — 4 Comments

  1. You know the problem with these scans exists not only in the US…I live in Russia and when I had some breething problems, I came to a special clinic and asked a radiologist if I should have a chest scan despite the fact that the doctor didn’t say that I need it. She said “you really need it” and quickly done the test… after that a doctor asked if I want to pay less giving 50% of money directly to the doctor…In Russia it is rather an expensive test as in Europe…When several days after that I came to that place again and enquired why didn’t she tell me about the risks she was laughing at me….also noone told me about the dose I’ve had…the radiologist just said that many people undergo ct scans today and noone cares about it especially about the dose… 2 or 10 msv it doesnt’t matter and it is funny for her to hear that I care about it…she also said that there are patients in their clinic who undergo about 5 CT scans in four days….The key is that they don’t care for absolutely anything but money…It is very sad…very irresponsible people, and I feel very upset that I went there and didn’t follow my acute doctor’s advice…In Russia medicine and service are on a very low level because most people live poor lives…

    • Hi Tatiana, thanks for sharing your experience. I know health care spending and over treatment are problems in other countries, as well as ours. Radiation comes from many sources and each of us should be mindful of our exposure. I had a run-in with a mammogram tech who insisted I should use the clinic’s brand new 3D mammogram machine, even though the radiation is so much higher I would have to sign a consent form to have it done. I refused. She couldn’t believe I wouldn’t want “the best” mammogram (which is highly debatable). Perhaps her job was to “sell” the 3D mammograms; I don’t know. She was actually very rude to me, and I have not gone back to that clinic. Thanks again for the comment. Cheers, FN

  2. The decision on whether or not to scan someone should not be taken lightly, I agree. In the emergency room we have several validated tools to decide when to CT a patient. For instance…if a patient comes in with trauma and arrives in a c-spine collar there is the NEXUS criteria and Canadian C Spine Rules to decide whether or not exposing someone to the radiation of a CT scan outweighs the risks. I have found these to be really helpful in decision-making around this topic. Also, ultrasound is being used more and more in medicine…hopefully this can decrease our use of CT scans!

    • Hi Sarah, thanks for your comment and some perspective from a health provider’s point of view. I’m glad to hear decision-making tools are being utilized and CT scans, at least in your ER, are not being ordered without cause. Do you know how well your CT machines are calibrated or maintained? I’ve known for some time that CT scanners can vary widely in the amount of radiation delivered, even when considered “low dose”. Interesting that only mammographic radiation is regulated. Because the new 3D mammograms use a higher dose of radiation, the FDA requires patients to sign a consent form. I hope this lack of oversight for CT scans is a problem that will be addressed soon. Cheers, FN