Anxious Parents May Cause Doctors To Order Unneeded Scans

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It is important to be concerned about your child’s health, and to take possible concussions seriously, but it appears sometimes being anxious about your child’s well being can cause doctors to order unneeded scans and testing that waste money and other limited resources, as well as possibly exposing children to unnecessary radiation.

Researchers from Japan have found that children with “minor blunt head trauma” who have been brought to an emergency room are more likely to be put through a CT scan if their parents prefer the doctor order the scan than the children whose parents let the doctor make the call.

“Our results indicate that medically irrelevant factors such as parental preference may affect physician decision making and can result in unnecessary exposures to children,” the researchers stated in their findings, according to the Huffington Post. It should be noted, the doctors are talking about unnecessary radiation from scans. Normally scans are only ordered if it is believed a child has suffered a brain injury.

These new findings are in line with similar findings from the US, such as those from a 2012 study by the University of California, Davis. In their article, the UC Davis researchers stated, “Parental anxiety and request was commonly cited by physicians as an important influence for ordering cranial CT in children of white non-Hispanic race/ethnicity.”

The normal symptoms doctors look for before ordering scans are loss of consciousness, vomiting, or trouble staying awake, but doctors are 4.4 times more likely to order a scan in a child despite possibly not identifying any worrying symptoms if the parents show strong preference for the scan.

“There are cases where I’m trying to convince parents not to do it. But some parents have that anxiety, and they can’t get that out of their head,” said Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York. Glatter was in no way involved with the study.

No one is saying that parents need to not concern themselves with their child’s health, but once your child is in the hands of a medical professional, it is usually best to trust their opinion.

The new study was published in the latest issue of JAMA Pediatrics.

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