Increased CT Scans in Emergency Rooms Linked to Decreased Hospital Admissions

imagingBiz | While the volume of CT scans administered in emergency rooms have increased dramatically in recent years, a new study published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine links such an increase to fewer hospital admissions.

According to the study, the use of CT scans in emergency departments rose by 330% between 1996 and 2007. Authors of the study deem the resulting reduction in hospitalizations beneficial to patients and the healthcare system alike.

“We saw a more dramatic rise in CT use among older patients, but, we also saw an associated decline in post-CT hospitalizations,” says Lead Study Author Kocher, MD, of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
In 1996, the study shows, the rate of hospitalization following CT scan was 26%. That rate had, by the conclusion of the study period in 2007, declined by more than half, to 12.1%. Researchers identified a similar pattern of declining risk of admission or transfer to intensive care units during the period.

In an editorial accompanying the study, Robert Wears, MD, of the University of Florida Health Science Center, cites the “desire for greater certainty” among emergency physicians as one reason for the increase, particularly given the high-risk environment of the emergency department and the potential for litigation by patients with bad outcomes.

“The occasional ‘near miss,’ where one manages a patient without imaging, only to discover later that they had CT-detectable pathology of some sort that could have been detected sooner, reinforces the desire for greater certainty,” Wears asserts.


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