Why Going to the ER with Belly Pain May be a Bad Idea

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that abdominal pain is the single most common reason that American patients visit the ER. And a CT scan is one of the most commonly ordered ER tests for patients with belly pain. However, often, CT scans can't diagnose the actual cause of ER patients' abdominal pain. What's more, CT scans deliver significant doses of radiation to a patient's abdomen and pelvis.

Time Magazine reports:

"A recent survey of patients who went to the ER with belly complaints found that those who received extensive testing -- including CT scans and blood work -- were more likely to feel confident with their care than those who didn't. More worrisome, over 70 percent of the same sample vastly underestimated the risk of the cumulative radiation exposure for the CT scans, and many of them did not recall accurately if they had ever received this test before."

Bear in mind that over the course of a lifetime, patients who receive two or three abdominal CT scans are actually exposed to more radiation than many Hiroshima survivors!

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