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Radiologists call for national strategy to address medical imaging overuse
Date:8/23/2010

Overutilization of medical imaging services exposes patients to unnecessary radiation and adds to healthcare costs, according to a report appearing online and in the October issue of the journal Radiology that calls on radiologists to spearhead a collaborative effort to curb imaging overutilization.

"In most cases, an imaging procedure enhances the accuracy of a diagnosis or guides a medical treatment and is fully justified, because it benefits the patient," said the article's lead author, William R. Hendee, Ph.D., distinguished professor of radiology, radiation oncology, biophysics and bioethics at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. "But some imaging procedures are not justified, because they are unnecessary for the patient's care. These are the uses of imaging that we, as medical physicists, radiologists, radiation oncologists and educators, are trying to identify and eliminate."

The growth in medical imaging over the past two decades has yielded important and life-saving benefits to patients. Medical imaging has allowed millions of patients to avoid more invasive diagnostic and treatment procedures. However, overutilization of medical imaging services can be detrimental to patients by exposing them to unnecessary radiation. Between 1980 and 2006, the annual U.S. population radiation dose from medical procedures increased seven-fold, according to the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements.

In August 2009, the American Board of Radiology Foundation hosted a two-day summit with more than 60 participating organizations to examine the causes and effects of imaging overutilization.

The summit identified several key forces influencing overutilization, including payment mechanisms and financial incentives in the U.S. healthcare system, the practice behavior of referring physicians, self-referral, defensive medicine, patient expectations and duplicate imaging exams.

"There are many
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Contact: Linda Brooks
lbrooks@rsna.org
630-590-7762
Radiological Society of North America
Source:Eurekalert

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