Industry Awareness Should Imaging Usage Be Lessened?

There have been rising concerns about the use of computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, ultrasound and nuclear medicine imaging, and some organizations have chosen to address this, such as the “Choosing Wisely” campaign launched in 2012 by the American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation.

Still, though, the usage rates of these technologies have continued to rise in both the U.S. and Canada. According to Industry Dive, “Researchers at the University of California Davis, University of California San Francisco and Kaiser Permanente analyzed patterns of imaging use from more than 135 million exams conducted between 2000 and 2016. The findings suggest that neither financial incentives nor the campaign to reduce the use of medical imaging have been completely effective, the study authors said.”

“Although most physicians are aware that imaging tests are frequently overused, there are not enough evidence-based guidelines that rely on a careful consideration of the evidence, including information on benefits and harms that can inform their testing decisions,” said lead author Rebecca Smith-Bindman, UCSF professor of radiology, epidemiology and biostatistics, and obstetrics and reproductive medicine. “In the absence of balanced evidence, the default decision is to image.”

As technology continues to evolve, we wonder: is it really in the patient’s best interest to lessen the use of advanced medical imaging?

Corresponding Author

Rebecca Smith-Bindman, MD, Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging, Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of California, San Francisco, 350 Parnassus Ave, Ste 307A, San Francisco, CA 94143

Call to Action: Concerned about medical imaging benefits and risks? We invite you to see the study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.


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