Despite the increased attention to the radiation risks of computed tomographic scans, this Research Letter by Caverly et al illustrates that most patients who are undergoing imaging tests are not aware of the associated risks of radiation exposure. It is likely that many physicians also do not know the risks, and so it is not surprising that even when there are discussions with patients about risks and benefits of the procedure, patients clearly still do not understand the true risk of radiation exposure. If we are to achieve optimal shared decision making on the decision to undergo imaging studies, much work needs to be done in educating physicians on the magnitude of radiation used for commonly used computed tomographic scans and the risks of radiation exposure so that we can unveil the true risk of imaging radiation exposure to our patients. This information, presented in a way that assures patient understanding of the risks, should be part of every discussion surrounding the decision to image.
O’Malley PG. Time to Unveil the Risk of Imaging to PatientsComment on “Weighing the Potential Harms of Computed Tomography”. JAMA Intern Med. 2013;173(7):590. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.653