NYT: Double CT Scans Unnecessary, Cost Medicare $25 million a year

June 19, 2011

Hundreds of hospitals across the country needlessly exposed patients to radiation by giving patients doubled-up CT chest scans a front page article in Saturday’s New York Times found.

Hundreds of hospitals across the country needlessly exposed patients to radiation by giving patients doubled-up CT chest scans a front page article in Saturday’s New York Times found.

Assessing Medicare outpatient claims  for 2008 (the most recent data available), Times reporters Walt Bogdanich and Jo Craven McGinty found that about 75,000 patients received double cans, one using iodine contrast, one without. Each scan exposed patients to 350 times the radiation of a traditional x-ray – the primary concern of physicians commenting for the Time – and cost Medicare $25 million.

The Times found that more than 200 hospitals had done double scans on more than 30 percent of their Medicare patients, with scan rates as high as 60 percent to 80 percent at some hospitals. Academic medical centers, the Times reported, have double-scan rates of less than one percent and sometimes zero. Radiologists interviewed said double scans are needed only in rare cases.

Read the original article here.