Are Doctors Ordering Too Many Medical Imaging Tests?

Medical imaging tests, such as x-rays, CAT scans, and MRIs, have proven to be extremely beneficial in helping doctors diagnose medical issues in patients. However, like many medical tests and procedures, these imaging tests come with potential health risks because of the exposure the patient has to radiation that is used in the imaging process.

The Joint Commission, a non-profit organization that accredits and certifies health care programs and organizations across the country, has helpful information for patients about these medical imaging tests. The infographic the organization released explains what each of these tests is used for and what the risks associated with them may be.

The amount of radiation released during these tests varies, as does the rate of risk involved. The organization suggests that if your physician has ordered a medical imaging test, you should ask the following questions:

  • What is the reason for ordering the test?
  • Is radiation used in this test?
  • Is there another test available which does not use radiation?
  • How should you prepare and what will happen during the test?
  • Besides the medical facility where the test is being done, will your physician also be keeping a copy of the test records?
  • Is the medical facility where the test will be performed accredited?
  • Is the facility using the lowest amount of radiation needed for testing? This is particularly important for testing on children.

Children are especially vulnerable to radiation exposure. Studies have shown that children are often needlessly exposed to radiation from unnecessary chest X-rays their doctors order. In one major study conducted by the Mayo Clinic, researchers examined approximately 720 pediatric chest x-rays that were taken over a six-year period. The ages of the patients ranged in age from newborn to 17 years. The x-rays were ordered for emergency room patients, as well as hospital in-patients and out-patients.

Over half of the x-rays were given to children who reported chest pain. Another 185 chest x-rays were given to children who reported feeling dizzy, 98 for fainting, 37 for POTS (a sudden drop of blood pressure when standing), and 21 for feeling of general malaise. One x-ray was given to a child who was suffering from cyclical vomiting.

For the children who were given chest x-rays because of symptoms separate other than chest pains, the x-ray results played no role in their treatments. For the children suffering from chest pains, only 12 actually had respiratory issues revealed by the x-ray. The researchers point out in their findings that it is clear too many children are receiving unnecessary chest x-rays and exposure to radiation.

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If you’ve suffered an illness or injury as a result of a physician’s failure to properly diagnose, contact an experienced Virginia medical malpractice attorney to find out what legal recourse you may have. Call Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp to schedule a free and confidential consultation to find out what your legal options may be for recovering damages for the losses your doctor’s negligence has caused you. It is important to remember that there is a two-year statute of limitations in Virginia malpractice cases, so do not delay in contacting our office.