Electronic tools can help reduce radiation risks from medical imaging

Electronic tools that track the details of medical imaging procedures and clinical decision support tools integrated with a computerized physician order entry system can reduce the risk of radiation, according to an article in the journal CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.

Specifically, electronic records of imaging procedures could help reduce unnecessary repetition in testing, the authors wrote. For example, in a retrospective review of medical records for 459 patients who underwent CT and MRI exams in Washington state, more than a quarter of the tests were deemed inappropriate. What's more, only 24 percent of those inappropriate tests led to positive follow-up care.

"It is ... essential for reports of all CT and other radiologic examinations to be incorporated into medical records immediately to reduce the frequency of repetition," the authors wrote.

Additionally, Martha Linet, chief of the radiation epidemiology branch of the National Cancer Institute's Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, told AuntMinnie.com that CPOE systems help clinicians decide which exam option is most appropriate for a patient. "The appropriateness of a given radiologic examination is best determined by the requesting clinician, who is much more familiar with the patient than the radiologist, and better able to determine if the examination is justified," Linet wrote.

To learn more:
- read the full study (.pdf)
- here's the AuntMinnie.com article

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