Reward Trumps Risk

Reward Trumps Risk

Immediate patient care benefits outweigh long-term imaging concerns

In deciding whether to order a CT scan on a patient, a physician’s primary concern should be the immediate healthcare needs of the patient rather than any future health risk associated with radiation exposure. So says David Phillips, director of product management at McKesson Enterprise Medical Imaging, in his contribution to McKesson’s new ebook, The Convergence of Healthcare IT, Radiology & Cardiology.

In his piece, “Weighing the Reward of Radiology Information Systems,” Phillips cites research that indicates that the long-term negative health effects of radiation exposure from CT scans may be overstated and that the immediate health needs of a patient take precedent when deciding whether to order and administer the diagnostic test. That’s especially true in situations in which patients have been diagnosed with life-threatening medical conditions, according to Phillips.

“The immediate risk of death is a vital factor when taking into consideration the benefits of the exam versus the possibility of radiation-induced cancer in the future,” Phillips says in his article.

Supporting Phillips’ position is a recent proposed recommendation from the influential U.S. Preventative Services Task Force that people at high risk of developing lung cancer have annual low-dose CT scans. The benefits to patients of diagnosing and treating early-state lung cancer far outweigh any long-term risks from radiation exposure, according to the agency.

Phillips’ column appeared in Medical Imaging Talk, McKesson Corp.’s blog on medical imaging. Read Phillips’ original piece here.

Download McKesson’s new 16-page ebook, The Convergence of Healthcare IT, Radiology & Cardiology.