Use of Medical Imaging
(tests like Mammograms, MRIs and CT scans)

Children's Asthma Care

Emergency Care

Healthcare Associated Infections

Heart Attack Care

Heart Failure Care

Mortality Rates

Patient Experience

Perinatal Care

Pneumonia Care

Preventative Care

Readmission Rates

Stroke Care

Surgical Care

Use of Medical Imaging

Venous Thrombolytic Embolism Care
 
Glossary of Terms & Phrases

Contact Mountain States Health Alliance
*All imaging efficiency results are based on medicare claims data from the discharge period
of January 2010 through December 2010.

 

These measures give you information about hospitals' use of medical imaging tests for outpatients based on the following:

MRI Lumbar Spine for Low Back Pain

What does this measure tell you about a hospital's use of MRIs for low back pain?

Although MRIs can be helpful for diagnosing low back pain, MRIs can be used too much.

Usually, low back pain improves or goes away within six weeks and an MRI is not needed.

Quality of care standards say that most patients with low back pain should start with
treatment such as physical therapy or chiropractic care, and have an MRI
only if the treatment doesn't help.

Finding out whether treatment helps before having an MRI is better and safer for most
patients because it avoids the stress, risk, and cost of doing MRIs that patients may not need.

Outpatients with low back pain who had an MRI without trying recommended treatments first, such as physical therapy. (If a number is high, it may mean the facility is doing too many unnecessary MRIs for low back pain.)

36.8%

34.2%

37.8%

34.4%

29.7%

39.1%


Outpatients with low back pain who had an MRI without trying recommended treatments first, such as physical therapy. (If a number is high, it may mean the facility is doing too many unnecessary MRIs for low back pain.)

36.8%

34.3%

44.1%

32.8%

--

35.3%

Mammography Follow-up Rate

What does this measure tell you about a hospital's follow-up for screening mammograms?

When a screening mammogram shows signs of possible breast cancer, the patient is asked to come back for a follow-up appointment. A follow-up usually means having more tests (mammograms, an ultrasound, or both).

A number much lower than 8% may mean there's not enough follow-up and it's possible that signs of cancer are being missed.

Reasons could include poor technique (blurry X-rays that need to be repeated) or a lack of skill or experience interpreting the screening mammograms. Whatever the reason, unnecessary follow-up is stressful to patients and results in needless exposure to radiation. (There is no radiation exposure for ultrasound because they don't use x-rays.)

Outpatients Who had a Follow-up Mammogram or Ultrasound Within 45 Days After a Screening Mammogram. (A number that is much lower than 8% may mean there’s not enough follow-up. A number much higher than 14% may mean there’s too much unnecessary follow-up.)

8.5%

8.3%

7.5%

6.7%

--

8.1%


Outpatients Who had a Follow-up Mammogram or Ultrasound Within 45 Days After a Screening Mammogram. (A number that is much lower than 8% may mean there’s not enough follow-up. A number much higher than 14% may mean there’s too much unnecessary follow-up.)

8.5%

7.7%

3.9%

24.0%

19.0%

13.4%

Abdomen CT Use of Contrast Materials

What does this measure tell you about a hospital imaging facility's use of CT scans of the abdomen?

For this measure, if a number is very close to 1, it may mean that the facility is routinely giving patients combination CT scans of the abdomen when a single scan is all they need. Giving patients two scans when they only need one needlessly doubles their exposure to radiation:

Radiation exposure from a single CT scan of the abdomen is about 11 times higher than for an ordinary x-ray of the abdomen.

For a combination CT scan, radiation exposure is 22 times higher than for an x-ray of the abdomen because the patient is given two scans.

Risks of injected contrast include possible harm to the kidneys or allergic reactions. Contrast shouldn't be used if it isn't needed.

 

Outpatient CT scans of the abdomen that were "combination" (double) scans. (The range for this measure is 0 to 1.  A number very close to 1 may mean that too many patients are being given a double scan when a single scan is all they need.)

0.149

0.170

0.306

0.303

0.301

0.231

0.167

 

Outpatient CT scans of the abdomen that were "combination" (double) scans. (The range for this measure is 0 to 1.  A number very close to 1 may mean that too many patients are being given a double scan when a single scan is all they need.)

0.149

0.107

0.109

0.559

0.023

0.520

0.395

Thorax CT Use of Contrast Materials

What does this measure tell you about a hospital imaging facility's use of CT scans of the chest?

Standards of quality care say that most patients who are getting a CT scan of the chest should be given a single CT scan rather than a "combination" CT scan. (Although combination CT scans are appropriate for some parts of the body and some medical conditions, combination scans are usually not appropriate for the chest.)

The range for this measure is 0 to 1. If a number is very close to 1, it may mean that the facility is routinely giving patients combination CT scans of the chest when a single scan is all they need.

Giving patients two scans when they only need one needlessly doubles their exposure to radiation. Radiation exposure from a single CT scan of the chest is about 350 times higher than for an ordinary chest x-ray. For combination CT scans, radiation exposure is 700 times higher than for a chest x-ray because the patient is given two scans.

When contrast is used, there are risks that can include possible harm to the kidneys or allergic reactions (especially if the contrast is injected). To avoid unnecessary risk, contrast should be used only when it is needed.

Risks of injected contrast include possible harm to the kidneys or allergic reactions. Contrast shouldn't be used if it isn't needed.

 

Outpatient CT scans of the chest that ere "combination" (double) scans. (The range for this measure is 0 to 1. A number very close to 1 may mean that too many patients are being given a double scan when a single scan is all they need.)

0.044

0.080

0.283

0.434

0.296

0.261

0.277

 

Outpatient CT scans of the chest that ere "combination" (double) scans. (The range for this measure is 0 to 1. A number very close to 1 may mean that too many patients are being given a double scan when a single scan is all they need.)

0.044

0.028

0.084

0.288

0.240

0.000

0.277


* All imaging efficiency results are based on Medicare claims data from the discharge period of January 2010 through December 2010.