Unecessary Imaging Related to Cost? Liability? Lack of Information?

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Instances in which imaging is unnecessarily performed may be related to a gap in adherence to report recommendations, says new research from Harvard Medical School teaching affiliate, Brigham and Women's Hospital.

Repeat analysis of some 250 PET/CT patient reports gathered by researchers in the radiology department at the hospital showed that in 84 instances where imaging specialists recommended additional studies, these recommendations were unnecessary nearly half the time.

Furthermore, referring physicians did not go ahead with recommendations for additional imaging nearly 70 percent of the time.

“Some of the factors prompting unnecessary recommendations include reluctance of physicians to accept uncertainty regarding diagnosis,” said researcher Atul Shinagare, M.D.

This reluctance may have been driven by concerns of legal liability, cost, or an incomplete clinical analysis of the patient, he said in a statement from the hospital.

“On the other hand, ordering clinicians usually know the patient record and history, which may put them in a better position to judge the necessity of some recommended imaging tests,” he added.