Data: Hospital performs ‘combination’ CT scans at 10 times national rate

Pia Christensen

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates social media efforts of AHCJ and assists with the editing and production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

Lisa Chedekel, of the Connecticut Health Investigative Team, used Hospital Compare data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to find that patients at the University of Connecticut’s John Dempsey Hospital are getting “combination” CT scans much more that the national average.

ct-scan

Photo by Akira Ohgaki via Flickr

Combination scans mean that patients get two scans which, of course, subjects them to more radiation than a regular scan.

For chest scans, a patient’s radiation exposure from a double scan is 700 times higher than from a simple chest X-ray. For abdominal scans, the radiation dose is comparable to that of approximately 400 chest X-rays.

Nationally, the rate of patients getting a combination scan is 5 percent for chest scans and 19 percent for abdominal scans. At Dempsey, 48 percent of patients receiving chest scans had combination scans. For abdominal scans, it was more than 72 percent.

The hospital’s chief of radiology said he was “absolutely staggered” by the high rates but that “his own internal review last year had flagged a high incidence of the multiple scans – a trend that the hospital is now addressing.”

Related