Even radiology is at risk of overdosing—on information, that is

Working in healthcare provides no cover from the endless barrage of conflicting information on what’s good for you, what’s bad for you and what you couldn’t possibly care any less about but, hey, it’s interesting enough to follow anyway.

We probably do have a slight advantage over the average healthcare consumer when it comes to keeping things in perspective. Living and breathing healthcare on a daily basis, we tend to develop a quick eye for separating the serious from the nonsensical. That’s not much against the onslaught. But it’s not nothing.

Lately the need for discernment has been acute right here within radiology.

study published in Technology in Cancer Research & Treatment spawned something of a feeding frenzy in early July. TheHealthSite’s lead captured the confusion the new findings instantly introduced. “While in recent years studies claiming that radiation from X-rays, CT scans and other medical imaging cause cancer have been widely covered,” the site reported, “it turns out that such studies have some serious flaws.”

This past spring, new research fueled concerns over gadolinium-based MRI contrast agents leaving traces of the heavy metal in the brain. Health Imaging’s own John Hocter and Evan Godt did some superb reporting on the developments—just key gadolinium into the search field above to see. Encapsulating the what-do-we-do-now quotient, Evan cited an opinion piece penned by two leading radiology professors. “Of all of the possible endings to this story, one of the worst would be for us to unnecessarily deprive our patients of crucial, even life-saving, medical data from GBCA-enhanced MR imaging,” the profs wrote in Radiology. “Another would be for us to ignore these new findings and continue prescribing them as we have until now, without change.”

Meanwhile the mammography-screening wars proceed apace. Just look anywhere. You’ll find a battlefield.

Maybe the best way to avoid overloading on information—the clear and edifying as well as the hazy and puzzling—is to plow straight through it. Keep up with the news and views, but don’t let the data upset the daily to-do list. Pay attention to what’s going on, but make sure you’re consuming it and it’s not consuming you.

We work in healthcare. We can handle it.  

—Dave Pearson
Senior Writer