ER patients favor CT; will tolerate radiation risk

December 14, 2010
Diagnostic Imaging, Diagnostic Imaging Vol 32 No 11, Volume 32, Issue 11

Nearly three-quarters (74%) of emergency department patients consider diagnosis with CT more important than any associated radiation risk, according to a survey at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia.

Nearly three-quarters (74%) of emergency department patients consider diagnosis with CT more important than any associated radiation risk, according to a survey at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia. However, more than two-thirds (68%) of patients prefer the ordering physician to discuss the risks and benefits of CT with them before ordering the test.

The survey included 383 emergency department patients. Seventy-nine percent of patients correctly estimated their risk of cancer from chest x-rays as none, small, or very small. Eighty-three percent correctly estimated their risk of cancer from CT scans as none, small, or very small.

The researchers found differences in knowledge of radiation stratified by age, race, education, insurance status, and pain.

“Our results suggest we may help emergency department patients better with targeted teaching about radiation, decreasing their pain, discussing risks and benefits, and asking them to participate in the ordering of their diagnostic tests,” the authors said.