Hospital cuts unwarranted X-rays by 83 percent

Getting your medical director involved in imaging decisions can apparently help control imaging costs. The University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, N.Y., cut the number of unnecessary X-rays performed by 83 percent between January 2008 and January 2009 by taking a top-down approach that involved medical director involvement, according to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology.

Amid growing concerns about radiation risks and a rising awareness that demand for imaging sometimes exceeds need, researchers were looking for ways to eliminate unneeded or inappropriate exams. They noticed that a large number of routine trauma X-rays of the cervical spine were requested after a CT scan had ruled out any significant findings.

A clear algorithm for the X-ray evaluation of post CT cervical spines was developed and distributed through the medical director's office from the top down to care providers through their respective departments, and not directly from the imaging department.

"Not only are these X-ray exams unwarranted, they consume valuable resources, add an additional burden to emergency department and radiology staff, and subject patients to unnecessary radiation," said Dr. Mark J. Adams, lead author of the study.

To learn more:
- read the press release from the American College of Radiology
- read the article in the Journal of the American College of Radiology (subscription required)

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