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ER Patients Prefer To Know Risks And Benefits Of CT Scan Before Undergoing The Test.

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0_CTAccording to a study published in the American Journal of Roentgenology, most patients in the emergency department are more concerned about being correctly diagnosed by computed tomography (CT) than the potential risk due to radiation exposure. The study also revealed that two-thirds of patients prefer their ordering physicians discuss with them the risks and benefits of CT before ordering the imaging test. Kevin M. Takakuwa, MD, lead author of the study, said: "Because patients drive their care to some degree, it is important for physicians to understand patients' knowledge and attitudes about radiation exposure, particularly as they relate to CT."

Patients need to know risks and benefits.

The survey study, conducted at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, PA, included 383 emergency department patients who were asked three knowledge and three attitude questions about radiation risk from CT scans. Answers of the three knowledge-based questions showed that 79 and 83 % of patients correctly estimated their risk of cancer from chest X-rays and CT, respectively, as none, small or very small. Takakuwa stated: "Patients who were white, more educated and had lower pain scores were more likely to be correct. Only 34 % of patients correctly thought that CT gave more radiation than chest X-rays. The more educated patients were more likely to be correct."

Answers of the three attitude questions showed that 74 % of patients believed that reaching the correct diagnosis by CT was more important than radiation risks. Patients preferred a highly accurate test with more radiation than a safer non-accurate one. More than 68 % of patients wanted their doctors to discuss with them the risks and benefits of tests rather than leaving it to the doctor's judgment to order the best test. "Privately insured patients preferred to have their condition diagnosed with CT rather than worry about radiation. Blacks and patients with less pain wanted the risks and benefits explained at the expense of time. Whites preferred a more definitive test at the expense of more radiation," said Takakuwa. He finally concluded: "Given the differences in knowledge of radiation stratified by age, race, education, insurance status, pain and attitudes about radiation, our results suggest that we may help emergency department patients better with targeted teaching about radiation, decreasing their pain, discussing risks and benefits and asking them to participate in the ordering of their diagnostic tests."

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