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To Avoid Unnecessary MRI, CT Scans Do This. Your Pocketbook Will Appreciate It

When was the last time you had an X-ray or CT (computerized tomography) scan?

For several reasons, that’s important to know – and important to ask your doctor – before you get another one. Because too often, patients get more of them than they need, possibly exposing themselves to unhealthy levels of radiation – and definitely increasing their medical bills.

Two watchdogs for your wallet, Consumer Reports and Consumers Union, warn that up to one-third of CT scans are unnecessary.

Your doctor may have a good reason for ordering an X-ray or CT scan and you should never refuse a test that’s medically necessary.

But it’s good to ask… is it really needed?

Sometimes, it’s necessary from the doctor’s perspective. Insurance companies will pay them for it. The equipment is handy, in the office and can’t make money if it’s sitting unused. Also, scans can protect medical providers from lawsuits if diagnoses are wrong or if patients insist on them.

But sometimes, your medical records may include a recent X-ray or CT scan so that a new one is unnecessary. Sometimes, an alternative that lessens your exposure to radiation, such as ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), can work just as well.

It’s also good to look ahead to whenever you may need another X-ray or CT scan. Ask if it’s possible to get a CD of scans. Because next time, perhaps sometime soon, you might find yourself treated by a different, well-meaning doctor who might recommend a scan like the one you just got. At least, the earlier scan may help that different doctor treat your new injury or illness.

Share your CD of images and help the doctor help you. That’ll help you avoid absorbing more radiation and sidestep a larger medical bill.