Children are receiving more radiation at the hospital now then they did in the last decade. A new study finds CT scans of kids have increased fivefold between 1995 and 2008. Most of the scans—nearly 90 percent—are performed on children in non-pediatric emergency rooms.
Children are more susceptible to radiation’s harmful effects, so what considerations should parents have before signing off on a CT scan? Is it better to take your child to a children’s hospital, and what’s the difference in care compared to a regular hospital?
CNN senior medial correspondent Elizabeth Cohen addresses these questions on American Morning today.
I watched the piece on CT scans and kids which aired this morning, April 6th. As an ED physician I had several thoughts on this. First of all I agree it is an alarming increase in the number of CT scans. However the fact remains that in ruling out acute appendicitis in kids (which is everyone's biggest concern when they come in with abdominal pain), a CT scan is far more accurate and sensitive than an ultrasound. An MRI is just not an option in most cases. My reasons for ordering CT scans include a need for accuracy in diagnosis. However, more and more parents are coming to the ED with their kids for bumping their heads or "belly aches." If I send them home without tests the parents are upset and feel that I did nothing and more importantly....what if I am wrong and they sue me. I hate to say it but I think that law suits are one of the biggest driving factors in this. As physicians, it seems there is zero tolerance for misdiagnosis so telling me that an ultrasound is almost as good as a CT scan is just not good enough. By the way, making money for the hospital is not my concern at all as I am not paid by my hospital. Most ED docs are not compensated for the number of tests they order.