“The newer, state-of-the-art CT scans are just as good as established older technologies in diagnosing the presence and severity of coronary artery disease,” said cardiologist and lead study investigator Richard George, MD. “In addition, the newer CT scans have the added advantages of being easier on the patient, taking less time to perform, using less radiation, and providing physicians with all the information they need in one test.”
But the public might not see it that way. An enterprising reporter in Connecticut used CMS’ Hospital Compare data to ferret out the fact that patients at the University of Connecticut’s John Dempsey Hospital are getting combination CT scans of the chest 48% of the time—nearly 10 times the national average. And more than 72% percent of patients who were sent for CT scans of the abdomen received double scans—also much higher than the national average of 19%.
“The data collected by CMS’ ‘Hospital Compare’ system shows that Dempsey, part of the UConn Health Center, has the highest rate of double chest and abdomen scans among all hospitals in the state, most of which are in line or have lower rates than national averages,” wrote Lisa Chedekel for the Connecticut Health Investigative Team website.
For its part, the hospital did conduct an internal review last year that flagged a high incidence of the multiple scans. It is taking a number of steps to address what radiology chair Douglas Fellows, MD, concedes is a “staggering” number of combination scans.
Clinicians with expertise in abdominal and chest imaging are working with physicians to encourage single scans, for example. And in cases where outpatients come to Dempsey with orders for double scans, Fellows’ staff is contacting doctors to push for single scans, according to the article.