Study Links Increased CT Scan Usage,Lower Hospital Admission Rates

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A new study shows a correlation between volume of CT scans administered to hospital admission rates, with the latter falling as the former increase.

According to the study, which was published online in the August 9 issue of Annals of Emergency Medicine, the use of CT scans in emergency departments increased by 330% between 1996 and 2007, from 3.2% of patient
visits to 13.9% of patient visits. Rates of growth were highest for patients with symptoms that can be indicative of life-threatening emergencies, including abdominal pain, flank pain, chest pain, and shortness of breath.

But just as CT scan usage rates in emergency rooms rose during the time period studied, the rate of hospitalization fell. In 1996, the rate of hospitalization following CT scan was 26%. However, over the five-year time span, this figure dropped by more than 50%, to just 12.1% at the conclusion of the study in 2007.

Researchers also identify a similar pattern of declining risk of admission or transfer to intensive care units during the period studied.

To read the abstract, click here: http://www.annemergmed.com/article/S0196-0644(04)00830-3/abstract