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ER observation can reduce CT scans for children's head injuries

Virginia parents may be interested in a study that shows how the frequency of the expensive tests that their children undergo when they've sustained a minor blunt head injury can be reduced. Study results indicate that the need for computed tomography scans is reduced when a child spends more time under observation in the emergency room.

The study found that minor blunt head injuries can improve with time; therefore, the longer a child is observed by ER staff, the less chance that there is that they will need a CT scan. The need for a CT scan is reduced an average of 70 percent for each hour that the child spends under observation for a minor blunt head injury. The study also found that delaying a CT scan for a while doesn't increase the time that it takes to diagnose the injury.

Only a small percentage of the half-million children who visit emergency rooms every year for blunt head trauma actually suffer severe traumatic brain injury, the study said. Physicians need to balance the possibility of missing a significant brain injury against the exposure to radiation from having the CT scan done unnecessarily.

Parents whose child has sustained a blow to the head through someone's negligence may be eligible for financial compensation under Virginia's personal injury laws. This compensation can include past, present and future medical expenses if the injury was especially serious. A personal injury attorney may be able to advise the parents if they have a claim against the negligent party. An attorney may also be able to put together a claim with the liability insurance company for a fair settlement.

Source: News Medical, "Observation time in ER is associated with reduced CT rates for children at risk of TBI", August 07, 2013

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