Smiley & Smiley, LLP

Cumulative radiation concerns prompt study and outreach

Though radiation-based testing is often necessary to obtain a correct diagnosis and treatment plan, unnecessary radiation exposure can lead to serious health consequences. When doctors misread x-rays, are given incomplete images or are otherwise compelled to order additional radiation-based tests, a patient’s exposure to radiation can add up quickly. In addition, radiation exposure also builds over a lifetime and can exceed safe limits if not correctly monitored.

In an effort to address the serious issue of harmful cumulative radiation exposure, various American companies and healthcare providers are attempting to record and quantify any given patient’s exposure within his or her medical chart. When this information is readily available, physicians and patients can more easily make informed decisions about whether or not the benefits of additional radiation-based testing outweighs its risks.

By measuring cumulative radiation exposure and reacting to high risks accordingly, physicians and radiologists can better help to ensure that patients do not suffer increased cancer risks as a result of testing that is not absolutely necessary. Some efforts to enact this safety precaution even include charting alerts aimed at informing physicians when levels of high-dose imaging have so placed a patient at risk that alternatives are highly advisable in regards to a specific case.

When physicians expose patients unnecessarily to radiation or allow over-radiation to occur, it is possible that patients may be able to hold them accountable in a court of law. However, preventing this kind of medical harm is obviously preferable to allowing it to happen and then fighting for just compensation. Hopefully industry efforts at preventing over-radiation will be largely successful at eliminating toxic levels of patient exposure.

Source: AmedNews.com, “Project tallies lifetime radiation from health scans,” Christine S. Moyer, June 24, 2013

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