Walt Bogdanich and Jo Craven McGinty
June 19, 2011
Long after questions were first raised about the overuse of powerful CT scans, hundreds of hospitals across the country needlessly exposed patients to radiation by scanning their chests twice on the same day, according to federal records and interviews with researchers.
Performing two scans in succession is rarely necessary, radiologists say, yet some hospitals were doing that more than 80 percent of the time for their Medicare chest patients, according to Medicare outpatient claims from 2008, the most recent year available. The rate is typically less than 1 percent, or in some cases zero, at major university teaching hospitals.
Next month, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services is expected to release figures for 2009, but according to people who have seen the numbers, the practice of double scanning chest patients has continued.