ECRI provides a guide for safer CT scans

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Non-profit health services research agency ECRI (formerly the Emergency Care Research Institute) has released recommendations to physicians and patients in hopes to reducing the number of deaths and injuries caused by radiation doses during CT scans, and generally to educate the public as to the risks involved in CT dose. Around 6,000 cancers each year are associated with CT dose according to current estimates, ECRI said.

ECRI’s report evaluates the radiation risks of CT and compares this to other possible sources of radiation exposure in and outside of healthcare, while also outlining ways in which doses can be kept to the necessary minimum. According to ECRI, the potential of CT to increase the number of cancers is a public health concern, especially in younger patients.

ECRI believes that healthcare facilities should take several steps to address this situation, including eliminating unnecessary CT use, raising referring physicians’ awareness of the issues, considering alternative diagnostic tools, optimizing imaging protocols, and monitoring x-ray doses.

Exams are justifiable, ECRI said, as long as the radiation risks are appropriate for the diagnosis. But, if healthcare professionals are not educated about the dose risks, the appropriate precautions may not be taken.

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