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Radiation Safety Bill

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Governor Schwarzenegger signed into law a bill that helps prevent mistakes involving CT scans and other high radiation devices for patients undergoing such treatment. The protocols and safety measures that the bill requires will protect patients from exposure to excess levels of radiation.

SB 1237

SB 1237 was sponsored by Consumer Attorneys of California (CAOC) after more than 330 patients in Los Angeles hospitals and other California hospitals suffered radiation overdoses while undergoing CT scans last fall. Both the CAOC and the personal injury lawyers at Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys are in support of this bill.

The legislation will require the reporting of any radiation mistakes, such as radiation overdoses, to the patient and doctor. Furthermore, the bill requires the radiation dosage to be recorded in the patient’s medical records so that any questions, problems and concerns can be monitored and detected more easily. Currently, federal law only regulates the machines themselves and not the technicians and doctors using them so this bill is a huge step toward holding people accountable for any mistakes.

Michael Heuser, a Cedars Sinai patient who experienced the equivalent of 50,000 chest x-rays, or 8 times the allowable dose of radiation, made the report that led to the nation-wide warning by the FDA. After the bill’s passing, Heuser has stated that the bill will help “ensure that these sort of tragic mishaps don’t ever happen again.”

This bill, authored by Senator Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima), will impact the radiation and ultrasound industry significantly by holding technicians and doctors responsible for mistakes made when using such machines that can harm patients seeking help and healing.

Support for the Radiation Safety Bill

Consumer Attorneys of California (CAOC) President Christopher B. Dolan says the bill will “accomplish the highest calling — it will help save lives.” Dolan believes that the bill is ultimately about deterring wrongdoing before it happens. “It’s about ensuring that patients can safely undergo CT scans that are meant to help them heal, not cause harm. It’s just another example of how the Consumer Attorneys of California work diligently to promote public safety to prevent unnecessary injuries before they happen.”

Brian Chase, a Vice President of CAOC, also showed support for the bill and its goal to reduce radiation exposure for patients. Prior to the bill’s passing there wasn’t an adequate way to track such radiation issues. But now that the bill requires the radiation dosage to be recorded in the patient’s records, such mishaps and overdoses will accounted for and hopefully reduced.

Benefits

This measure puts Californians in the forefront in its attempt to prevent such radiation mishaps. Medical radiation can save lives when used properly but it can be quite harmful and even deadly if improperly administered. SB 1237 will help ensure the proper use of radiation by calling for safeguards and accountability for those using the machines.

SB 1237 is not set to take effect until January 1, 2012 with an additional accreditation mandate for CT scanners to take effect January 1, 2013. The delayed implantation will allow the radiology community to continue to work with legislatures to come up with the clearest language and best solutions for everyone.

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