Many CT Scans for Minor Head Injuries Unnecessary, Study Finds

November 14, 2012 | Strategic Insights for Health System


Approximately 10% to 25% of computed tomography (CT) scans ordered in the emergency department (ED) for patients who present with mild traumatic brain injuries are not indicated by evidence-based guidelines, according to the results of a study published in the November 2012 Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety. The study retrospectively analyzed the medical records of 346 brain injury patients who received a CT scan at an urban, Level I ED to determine the proportion of cases that met the criteria for CT established in four guidelines. The data indicated that 64.7% of the scans performed met the standards established by the Canadian CT Head Rule, 74.3% met the standards established by the American College of Emergency Physicians clinical policy, 86.7% met the conditions established by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence guidelines, and 90.5% met the New Orleans Criteria for patients with minor head injury.

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