UConn Dempsey Hospital’s high use of controversial scans questioned

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Patients at UConn’s Dempsey Hospital in Farmington are nearly ten times more likely to receive “combination CT scans” than at other CT or US hospitals; other CT hospitals’ rates are similar to the national average. In 2008 national rates for the higher intensity scans were 5% for chest scans and 19% for abdominal scans; at Dempsey those scan rates were 48 and 72% respectively. The controversial scans expose patients to much higher levels of radiation – 700 times higher than a standard X ray for combination CT scans of the chest. Radiation from CT scans given nationally in 2007 has been estimated to cause 29,000 cancers. Combination CT scans are also more costly, almost 60% more expensive, than standard scans. Experts at CMS state that combination CT scans are very rarely necessary and are concerned about over-treatment. Dempsey officials were “absolutely staggered” by the results and are changing policies to reduce overuse of the scans.
Ellen Andrews