NCOA: More communication needed involving medical imaging and implantable device safety
The National Council on Aging (NCOA), a nonprofit advocacy agency, last week released the results of a national survey that found that communication between older adults, caregivers and healthcare providers about the safety of medical imaging is often inadequate.

The survey was conducted via 1,077 online interviews with 652 older adults, 273 caregivers and 152 physicians from Nov. 19 - 30, 2009. The questions, which focused primarily on electronic implantable device patients and their caregivers, found that older patients may not be fully aware of the benefits and risks of medical imaging.

The results revealed that confusion exists regarding the risks that MRI poses for patients with electronic implantable devices and that very few physicians will order these tests for their patients that have certain implantable devices, including pacemakers. Ninety percent of physicians interviewed agreed that magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be risky for these patients, said the agency.

In addition, the NCOA reported that nearly a third of patients interviewed and more than half of caregivers did not recall being informed that they or the person they care for might not be eligible for some forms of medical imaging at the time the device was implanted.

According to the council, between 50 and 75 percent of patients with electronic implantable devices will likely require medical imaging over the course of their lifetime, as the likelihood for requiring these tests doubles after the age of 65.

"Our aim is to highlight the results of this survey to increase awareness and facilitate a more productive dialogue between patients, caregivers and health care providers," said Stuart Spector, senior vice president of the NCOA.