CT, MRI Use in Emergency Departments Soaring

HealthLeadersMedia.com | October 8 – A study on the increased use of imaging in the emergency department raises questions about how to best provide quality, cost-effective care to patients, and at least one expert sees implications for comparative-effectiveness research and value-based insurance design (VBID).

The use of CT and MRI scans for injury-related ED visits in the United States tripled between 1998 to 2007, but there was no commensurate increase in the prevalence of the diagnosis of certain life-threatening, trauma-related conditions. The research, which used data from the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, appeared in the October 6 issue of JAMA.

The widespread availability of CTs and MRIs and their ability to identify significant injuries “have made these tools important in the evaluation of patients presenting to emergency departments,” the authors write. Nevertheless, the increased use of these tools is associated with the higher costs, greater exposure to ionizing radiation, and more time spent in the ED.

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