Are Physician’s Radiation Use Warranted and Excessive?

A new study from the National Council of Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP) shows that the average American is exposed to about six times more radiation from medical tests than in the 1980’s.

The study articulated that “American’s overall radiation exposure jumped from 3.6 millisieverts (mSv) to 6.2 mSv per year — almost entirely a result of radiation-based medical tests.”

These figures are also not taking into account background radiation, which is radiation that naturally emanates from soil, rocks and other environmental substances.

It was noted in the story, published by Scientific American Magazine, that the rise of CT (computed tomography) scans have a lot to do with this increased medical radiation exposure.

This gradual rise in radiation exposure underscores the necessity for more concrete evidence that these procedures are strictly contingent upon the patient’s health and overall quality of life.  Too many times do doctors endorse these risky tests, even when a more non-invasive form of therapy is available and substantial to come to an accurate diagnosis.  

Now, I am aware that I am not a physician nor a radiation technician, but in the most pragmatic expression and objective voice that I can use, it is safe to conclude that any test or series of tests that accounts for nearly 50 percent of American’s exposure of radiation, up from 15 percent, is inappropriate and a margin away from unethical.

“The advantage of these tests is that they are generally better for diagnosing conditions than older technologies [such as standard x-rays, which expose patients to much less radiation], says Arl Van Moore, president of the American College of Radiology. “But we are concerned about the overuse of radiation through self-referral,” or doctors ordering exams that can be done in their own offices for their own financial benefit, he says.”

It is thus beneficial to the patient and/or family of the patient to be skeptical and prudent to simply agree with a course of treatment if it sounds excessive in any one area, such as the use of CT scans or MRIs.  This approach will bring to light why that certain course was chosen, and this skepticism might surface some possible issues that might not be in the physician’s frontal lobe.  These issues might be that there are some better, more efficient non-invasive therapies available, and this might change the ideologies and attitudes that doctors have toward using these scans too often without a more perceptual, diverse view of both the patient and the world that the patient interacts with daily.


The full story can be found here



~ by jrn320afigueroa on March 7, 2009.

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