To Scan or Not to Scan: The Mind MI Head Campaign

To scan or not to scan? That is often the question when an emergency physician treats a child for a head injury sustained during a sporting event, winter sledding accident, or any number of other common circumstances.  

To educate parents and physicians about protecting children from unnecessary radiation risks, the Michigan College of Emergency Physicians (MCEP) Quality committee launched “Mind MI Head,” an education campaign to help educate parents, families, and physicians on when CT imaging is or is not necessary.

The goal is to continue reducing computed tomography (CT) imaging when children visit the emergency department with a minor head injury. This multimedia campaign involved reaching out to hospitals in Michigan and creating posters and badges outlining the scan prediction rules. The online videos are a fabulous educational tool for parents.

On one hand, the child might not show external signs of significant injury. At the same time, you’ve got parents asking, “But doc, what if I let him sleep and he doesn’t wake up? Maybe we should get the CT scan, just to be sure.”

But then you think about the radiation. It is well known that radiation from CT increases the lifetime risk for radiation-associated cancer such as leukemia, brain tumors and thyroid cancers. It is estimated that 1 in 1500 children exposed to head CT examination will go on to develop cancer, which is approximately 10 times higher than adult comparisons. [Brenner et. al. (AJR AM J Roentgenol 2001 176(2):289-96)]

The concern is real — we don’t take the decision to scan lightly. has all the campaign resources. A whopping 2,000 posters and badges were distributed to hospitals all over the state. Then, in just five short weeks over one million ads were launched. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services supported the campaign through a public advertising and social media blast. 

Thousands of people in Michigan learned about the appropriate use of CT scans for pediatric head injuries. Although the ad and video campaign has ended, the website is still live and there are more posters and badges available.

The campaign can be a resource for practitioners and parents in the state of Michigan. Your children will be thankful that you are now encouraging them to “Mind MI Head.”  

Mind MI Head was led by the MCEP Quality Committee under the leadership of Gregory Gafni-Pappas, DO and Emily Mills, MD with the Pediatrics committee and the exceptional MCEP staff of Belinda Chandler, Madey VanOtteren and Christy Snitgen, and funded by a grant from ACEP.


Dr. Pamela Coffey is an emergency physician with Sparrow Hospital in Lansing and chair of the Pediatric Committee with the Michigan College of Emergency Physicians

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