We aim to improve patient safety and clinical outcomes by implementing new technological advances in the emergency department setting. Though clearly helpful in the evaluation of emergent conditions, numerous studies have documented the hazards of using computer tomography (CT), including contrast-induced nephropathy and radiation-induced malignancies. The risk of developing cancer after CT is particularly relevant for younger patients because their tissues are more sensitive to radiation and they have a longer time to develop cancer. For this reason, our research has focused on imaging for conditions that commonly afflict the younger patient population including appendicitis, pulmonary embolism, and closed head injury.
Emergency department care is at the center of two conflicting trends:
- Increasing demand from referring primary care and specialty clinics to expedite outpatient diagnoses and
- Increasing pressure to decrease ED imaging and visits for cost containment.
This conflict creates a need to examine the value added by advanced imaging performed during ED visits. Accordingly, a better understanding is needed of how clinical care at ED visits, especially advanced imaging, influences subsequent resource utilization and outcomes.