June 22, 2012 — In a recently approved position statement, the American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM) affirms that computed tomography (CT) scans are important diagnostic tools for children and adults when used appropriately. AAPM encourages parents to discuss the need for any diagnostic medical procedures for their children with their physician.
AAPM believes parents may have additional questions regarding CT scans for their children in light of a study (Pearce et al.) published online June 7, 2012, in The Lancet regarding radiation risk from pediatric CT.
Specifically, besides consideration of medical appropriateness, parents may request information regarding steps being taken to keep radiation doses as low as possible while ensuring that the exam is of sufficient quality to yield the correct diagnosis. A number of important and ongoing initiatives are helping to ensure that the appropriate dose is used in medical imaging. The AAPM believes that communication to parents of these important initiatives may assist in reassuring parents that the entire medical imaging community is working diligently to keep CT imaging a safe and effective diagnostic tool.
AAPM also urges congressional action to ensure appropriate imaging and lower the radiation dose that Americans receive from scans every year by:
- Passing the Consistency, Accuracy, Responsibility and Excellence (CARE) in Medical Imaging and Radiation Therapy Act (H.R. 2104);
- Requiring accreditation of all imaging facilities (including hospitals); and
- Encouraging/incentivizing use of appropriateness criteria-based decision support/exam order entry systems.
AAPM believes that patient safety in the use of medical radiation will be increased through consistent education and certification of medical team members, whose qualifications are recognized nationally and who follow consensus practice guidelines that meet established national accrediting standards. The expertise of AAPM members in medical imaging technology, performance optimization, and radiation safety is an important component of these national efforts to ensure safe and appropriate medical imaging.
For more information: www.aapm.org