BC doctors not over-prescribing MRI and CT scans, according to recent publication

February 14, 2013 | By | Reply More

BC doctors following guidelines when prescribing scans

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BC doctors racked up 26 MRI exams per 1,000 people, which is lower than the Canadian average of 41 per 1,000 people.

The assumption that BC doctors over-prescribe MRI and CT scans doesn’t hold water in light of a new provincial paper published in the B.C. Medical Journal.

Published in the latest issue, the paper examined 1,901 requisitions made for the tests during both 2010 and 2011.

Results have pointed out that merely two per cent of all image scans are unnecessary. This figure is significantly below the often quoted figure of 30 per cent for redundant image scans.

“We could find no scientific support for the 30 per cent ‘inappropriate’ rate for CT and MRI quoted by some sources, and suspect that no evidence exists,” states the reports’ authors.

Of the requisitions studied, 25 per cent were “invalidated”, 46 per cent were considered “indeterminate” and merely two per cent were tagged as inappropriate.

The health ministry has expressed its satisfaction with the result saying the BC doctors were ordering tests in accordance with guidelines.


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The paper has not only turned a wrongly-held belief on its head, it has also revealed an entirely new picture of the current situation of MRI and CT scans in the province.

With 26 scans per 1,000 people, the rate of MRI examinations in B.C. is markedly lower than the Canadian average of 41 scans per 1,000 and Alberta’s 54 scans per 1,000.

Although the B.C. figure of 106 CT scans per 1,000 people is comparable to the national average of 121 per 1,000, it is nowhere near the New Brunswick figure of 193 scans per 1,000 people.

The paper also touches on long wait times for MRI and CT scans.

It shows that even though most patients received a scan within the stipulated 91-day period, some patients had to wait for as long as one year.

Long wait times for image scans have resulted in a proliferation of private MRI and CT clinics in the province.

It is estimated over a dozen for-profit private MRI clinics operating in B.C.


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Category: Health

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