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ER observation time associated with reduced CT rates


Massachusetts residents might be interested to hear that, according to a study that was published online in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, the longer a child who has minor blunt head trauma is observed in the emergency room department, the less likely the child will be to require a computed tomography scan. According to the lead study author, every hour that a child was observed was associated with a reduced CT rate no matter whether the child was at low, immediate or high risk of traumatic brain injury.

According to the study, emergency physicians observed about half of the children who were enrolled with minor blunt head trauma before they decided whether or not to obtain CT scans on them. For most children, the symptoms improved within the observation period, so they didn’t necessarily need a CT scan. More than half a million children reportedly come to the emergency department for elevation of blunt head trauma every year, but very few of them actually end up having a traumatic brain injury.

According to one doctor, physicians must learn how to balance the possibility of missing a significant traumatic brain injury with the future risk of malignancy that is associated with the ionizing radiation exposure that children undergo with CT scans. The doctor also went on to state that observing children prior to making decisions concerning CT scans has the potential to further reduce the CT rates of children without missing injuries.

People who have procedures done when they don’t really need them or who have missed diagnoses might be able to file medical malpractice lawsuits against the doctors or facilities responsible for the error. Such lawsuits could allow them to potentially receive compensation for their conditions that were caused by the negligence of medical practitioners. Medical malpractice lawyers might be able to help people determine whether or not they have a valid claim.

Source: News Medical, “Observation time in ER is associated with reduced CT rates for children at risk of TBI“, August 07, 2013


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