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Letter: Communicate to reduce ER scans

Paramedic Bruno Fernandini prepares a room for the

Paramedic Bruno Fernandini prepares a room for the next patient at the University of Miami Hospital's Emergency Department on April 30, 2012 in Miami, Fla. Credit: Getty Images

As a radiologist who has worked at several hospitals, I have noticed unnecessary scans in emergency rooms practically everywhere ["Study: Some scans in ER unnecessary," News, Feb. 21].

A major reason is that faster decisions need to be made about keeping or discharging a patient from the ER. Most of the CT scans are done even before the blood and urine test results are back! This is a terrible way to practice medicine.

The eyes of the concerned authorities are shut tight regarding the high volume of CT and MRI scans. Many diagnoses can be made without radiation or with a much cheaper ultrasound examination, when done properly. But there is reluctance by referring physicians, who choose not to rely on the expertise of radiologists.

Many radiologists also choose not to educate or constantly battle with referring physicians. Physicians, including radiologists at teaching and nonteaching hospitals, are reluctant to change the system and prefer to stay on with the way they have been practicing medicine for years.

Unnecessary scans could be minimized by the ER physician giving a tentative diagnosis, rather than a vague one, such as headache, groin pain, etc. The radiologist should read the tentative diagnosis, talk briefly to the patient or relative regarding the condition, look at prior records and modify the examination accordingly.

Communication has become more and more difficult over the years, leading to too many unnecessary procedures.

Dr. Sharada Jayagopal, East Williston


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