Will CT ordering practices change if we educate residents about the potential effects of radiation exposure? Experience at a large academic medical center

Jeanne M Horowitz, Vahid Yaghmai, Frank H Miller, Eric J Russell
Academic Radiology 2011, 18 (11): 1447-52

RATIONALE AND OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to determine if educating residents about the potential effects of radiation exposure from computed tomographic (CT) imaging alters ordering patterns. This study also explored whether referring physicians are interested in radiation education and was an initial effort to address their CT ordering behavior.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Two to four months after a radiologist's lecture on the potential effects of radiation exposure related to CT scans, urology and orthopedic residents were surveyed regarding the number and types of CT scans they ordered, the use of alternative imaging modalities, and whether they used the lecture information to educate patients.

RESULTS: Twenty-one resident lecture attendants completed the survey. The number of CT scans ordered after the lecture stayed constant for 90% (19 of 21) and decreased for 10% (two of 21). The types of CT scans ordered changed after the lecture for 14% (three of 21). Thirty-three percent (seven of 21) reported increases in alternative imaging after the lecture, including 24% (five of 21) reporting increases in magnetic resonance imaging and 19% (four of 21) reporting increases in ultrasound. Patients directed questions about radiation exposure to 57% (12 of 21); 38% (eight of 21) used the lecture information to educate patients. Referring physicians were interested in the topic, and afterward, other physician groups requested radiation education lectures.

CONCLUSIONS: Most clinicians did not change their CT scan ordering after receiving education about radiation from a radiologist. Radiation education allowed clinicians to discuss CT benefits and risks with their patients and to choose appropriate CT protocols. Referring physician groups are interested in this topic, and radiologists should be encouraged to give radiation lectures to them.

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