The recently identified link between rising computed tomography scan usage in emergency departments and a decrease in hospital admissions was not celebrated by a leading advocate for emergency department physicians, who worry about associated health risks.
ACEP responds to CT scans, admissions link
A previously reported 330% increase in CT scans from 1996 to 2007 was linked to reductions in hospitalizations and transfers of emergency patients by a study published Tuesday in the online version of the Annals of Emergency Medicine. An accompanying editorial argued that the reduction in hospitalizations is a benefit for patients and the healthcare system.
Dr. Sandra Schneider, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians, responded to the study by warning about the potential health dangers of CT scans and the legal concerns that may drive their overuse.
“In most cases emergency physicians order a CT scan because they feel the patient has a high probability of the disease (such as appendicitis or a blood clot in the lung),” Schneider said in a statement to Modern Healthcare. “Sometimes we order it to protect ourselves from a possible malpractice suit.”
As an example, she noted that some non-CT screening tests are 98% accurate, which establishes them as solid clinical tools. But physicians also are worried that the 2% of people with the disease missed by the screening tool “might sue us.”
Send us a letter
Have an opinion about this story? Click here to submit a Letter to the Editor, and we may publish it in print.