CT Scan Overuse Among Children
Yesterday, I read an article about the recent increase in CT scans among children brought to the emergency department after a head injury, such as from a fall, and it got me thinking. I'm the mother of a toddler. Any toddler's mother knows that head injuries are pretty much a given. Fortunately, my son has had only a mere handful of minor falls, never from a height greater than his own height, which from my understanding is the rule of thumb regarding the seriousness of a child's fall. But upon reading that nearly half of all children brought to the emergency department undergo CT scans, I wondered what I would do if I suspected my son had a head injury.
I'm fairly certain I would panic. As a relatively new mom, panic is my middle name. If I took my son to the hospital, I can bet I'd be one of the parents requesting a CT scan to determine whether there is a traumatic brain injury. Why? Because it is hardwired in parents to think the worst outcome is happening or about to happen and to strive to prevent it at all costs. And having watched too many episodes of medical dramas on tv (I'm talking to you, Grey's!) hasn't helped.
Having a child is both the best and the scariest thing that's ever happened to me. My husband and I alone are responsible for every aspect of another human being's life, including ensuring his safety and good health,and that's often an overwhelming thought. When my son fell off the couch because he was spinning in circles before I could get to him, I was stricken with the most overwhelming sense of guilt I've ever experienced. Ever. And fear quickly followed. Just as automatically as I picked up my son and kissed his head and grabbed an ice pack, the fears revved up in my mind: Does he have a concussion? Do we need to go to the hospital? Did he suffer a brain injury? And I quickly run down the checklist of concussion symptoms.Continued on the next page