A recently published government report has sparked additional concerns regarding the risk of overexposure to radiation from unnecessary radiology scans. The results of the national report on medical imaging practices shows that Illinois hospitals provide double chest CT scans almost twice as often as other hospitals nationwide. A double chest CT scan is when a study is ordered both with and without contrast, which requires it to be done twice thereby exposing the patient to twice as much radiation.
One of the main hospitals cited in the report as potentially giving “patients a double scan when a single scan is all they need” is Edward Hospital, located in Naperville, Illinois. Edward Hospital officials were reportedly surprised to learn that their CT scans exceeded the national average and have since launched an investigation into its radiology department policies and procedures.
The new government reports on Edward Hospital and other medical institutions nationwide can be found at the government-run website Hospital Compare. This informative website allows patients to search different hospitals by region and compare the quality of care provided by each. Medical information websites like Hospital Compare allow patients to be their own medical advocate and make informed decisions about their care and treatment.
At this point it is difficult to determine the full extent of the legal implications of this new information on the overuse of radiology scans. Like any Illinois medical malpractice lawsuit, each case will hinge on the individual patient’s outcome. While two patients might be exposed to the same amount of radiation in repeated scans, if one ends up developing cancer while the other does not then they have two very different radiology malpractice lawsuits.
In addition, factors in terms of medical necessity will likely also come into play in terms of whether the scans were required to treat a life-threatening illness. If this is the case then a jury would likely be more lenient towards a doctor who ordered a scan in order to save a patient’s life than it would towards a physician who repeatedly ordered unnecessary scans. The next five to ten years will be key in determining the legal implications of the new information and policies regarding repeated radiology scans.
Chicago’s Kreisman Law Offices has been handling Illinois radiology malpractice lawsuits for over 30 years, serving those areas in and around Cook County, including Barrington, Oak Park, Blue Island, and Naperville.
Judith Graham. “New government report raises questions about CT scans at Illinois hospitals: Scans at hospital outpatient departments under a spotlight.” The Chicago Tribune. July 11, 2010.
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