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The changing culture of CT scans

It can be a terrifying experience for a parent when a child suffers a serious head injury. With the growing focus on concussions and their long lasting effects, it is understandable for parents to want to have an injured child seen right away by a physician. Even more, defensive medical practices may call for an immediate CT scan to eliminate the possibility that a child has bleeding on the brain.

However, the long term risk of having continuous exposure to radiation has doctors changing the way they initially treat head injuries. By themselves, CT scans carry a benign amount of radiation, similar to spending a day in the sunshine. But the cumulative effect of x-rays and CT scans over a decade or so could lead to cancer. Further complicating things, is the notion that no one really knows how much exposure leads directly to cancer. 

Moreover, a child’s organs are more sensitive to radiation than an adult’s and since children have a longer life expectancy than the average adult, they are more likely to have additional x-rays and CT scans later in life. As such, physicians are increasingly likely to take a different approach to assessing head injuries.

Instead of going straight to CT scans, doctors are more likely to take a wait and see approach if certain danger signs were not present. This could not only lead to a healthy outcome, but it could also prevent medical malpractice.

If you have questions about when a doctor should (or should not) perform a CT scan, and whether a malpractice claim is viable, an experienced attorney can help. 

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