CT scans guidelines improve overall care for injured children

Following simple guidelines to determine when to perform follow-up CT scans on children admitted to the hospital with head injuries can lower risks, get kids home sooner, improve patient and family satisfaction and lower costs.

“Future and more widespread implementation of such guidelines can continue to improve overall care for injured children.”

Those are among the findings of a study being presented today at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Pediatrics by a trauma specialist from Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.

Richard Falcone, MD, MHP, director of Trauma Services at Cincinnati Children's, said the guidelines to reduce imaging and hospital charges grew out concerns about overuse of the CT scans and delays in discharging patients leading to family frustration.

"Our institution, as well as almost all other institutions, likely over-image children during initial evaluations and subsequent care," Dr. Falcone said. "There is an increased risk of cancer with imaging and therefore, less imaging is better."

In addition to reducing the risk of cancer, less imaging also translates into fewer charges. And a shorter length of hospital stay when fewer CT scans are performed also reduces the cost of health care and improves patient and family satisfaction, Dr. Falcone and other researchers from Cincinnati Children's found.

The retrospective study looked at 712 patients over four years admitted with mild traumatic brain injuries. The patients, ages birth to age 16, were seen in the emergency room for blunt head trauma. The guidelines were developed by trauma doctors and nurses, along with their peers in neurosurgery.

The guidelines categorized patients as high, low or normal risk following an initial head scan. When the guidelines for follow up scans were in place, researchers found a reduced number of scans, fewer overall hospitals and intensive care unit days, and lower charges (by about $8,000 per patient).

"Implementation of a relatively simple guideline helps guide and standardize the plan of care in children diagnosed with mild traumatic brain injury," Dr. Falcone said. "Future and more widespread implementation of such guidelines can continue to improve overall care for injured children."


Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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