What happens if a CT scan for abdominal pain turns up a lesion on the kidney? At first blush, it would seem the doctor has an obligation to tell the patient, and follow up with more tests and procedures.
But “incidental findings”—those unrelated to the initial purpose of an imaging test—can lead to overtreatment of a benign abnormality, which can have significant financial, psychological, and clinical consequences.
“They get managed aggressively even though there is a 1 out of 1,000 chance they pose a threat,” says Stella Kang, MD, MSc, assistant professor in the departments of Radiology and Population Health at NYU Langone, tells The Wall Street Journal.
Dr. Kang and Arthur L. Caplan, PhD, the Drs. William F. and Virginia Connolly Mitty Professor of Bioethics in the Department of Population Health, discuss in a Journal of the American College of Radiology paper why in some cases it may not be beneficial for a patient to know about minor, low-risk findings.
Read more from The Wall Street Journal (subscription required).