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Longer observation times lead to few CT scans for children

Alabama readers might take an interest in a study published Aug. 2, 2013 in Annals of Emergency Medicine. The results of the study revealed that the longer a child remains under observation in the emergency department for minor blunt head trauma, the likelihood that the child will require a CT scan decreases.

Every hour of emergency department observation time was correlated with a decrease in CT scan rates for children. This was true whether the child was at low, intermediate or high risk of traumatic brain injury, according to the study’s lead author. Additionally, children placed under observation for minor blunt head trauma before the CT scan decision was made saw reduced CT use without any observable delay in the diagnosis of significant traumatic brain injuries. Each hour of observation time reduced the CT scan rate by an average of approximately 70 percent.

Emergency physicians need to balance the risk of missing a clinically significant brain injury against the future risk of cancer associated with the radiation exposure of a CT scan. The study demonstrates that observation prior a CT scan might potentially reduce the rate of CT scans while minimizing the risk of missing significant brain injuries, thus improving emergency care for children with minor blunt head injuries. Each year, over half a million children are evaluated at emergency departments for blunt head trauma and most will not have a significant brain injury.

An Alabama personal injury lawyer may offer recourse to families who have been affected by the misdiagnosis or negligent care of a patient with a traumatic brain injury. A lawyer may be able to obtain a significant settlement to pay for the care of a family member with a TBI.

Source: News Medical, “Observation time in ER is associated with reduced CT rates for children at risk of TBI“, August 07, 2013

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