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Radiation Effects of Medical Tests

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Medical exams such as CT scans are as common as blood tests these days and not very many people worry about the test itself giving them a medical problem. Unfortunately, this has been the case, when patients have actually lost their hair after this routine test. Apparently, the CT scanner was putting out much more radiation than was the correct amount for a simple test. At the Cedars-Sinai Hospital, patients received EIGHT times the usual radiation of a brain scan because the brain scanner had been reconfigured. The question that springs to mind here is why is there not some type of method for checking how much radiation the scanner is putting out?

CT scans, fluoroscopy scans and nuclear medicine tests are all being used more frequently now, as they are actually successful tools in medical care and diagnosis. These tools are necessary in the treatment, care and diagnosis of patients with many diseases and should continue to be used by physicians and hospitals. However, there apparently needs to be some oversight of these tools. A patient should never receive excess radiation, just due to the fact that their physician ordered a diagnostic test.

At the present time, there is no record of the dosage that is received in a test, as unusual as that might seem. The FDA is naturally concerned about this and in February launched an “Initiative to Reduce Unnecessary Radiation Exposure from Medical Imaging” stating that, “Each person should get the right imaging exam at the right time, with the right radiation dose.” Which is all well and good, but what is being done to make this happen?

The Consumer Attorneys of California have supported SB 1237 authored by Senator Alex Padilla which will create safeguards for patients undergoing procedures in California medical treatment centers. The attorneys at Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys also strongly support this bill which will require treatment centers to record the dosage of radiation that a patient receives in the course of a CT or similar test.

The CAOC strongly believes that this change in the law will protect citizens undergoing medical tests by establishing a record of the dosages that they have received. Hopefully, this record will pinpoint a machine having a radiation outflow problem before it is used on a lot of patients. Also, the bill has a provision that require facilities doing testing to notify the patient, the patient’s physician and the Dept. of Health of certain dosage problems and irregularities in the test. The CAOC feels that this bill is a step in the right direction of protecting patients using California medical facilities.

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