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Excessive radiation from medical imaging tests raises concerns

Friday, November 20, 2009 by: Paul Louis, staff writer
Tags: radiation, medical imaging, health news

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(Natural News) For 18 months at Mt. Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles, patients receiving CT brain scans were unknowingly receiving radiation overdoses. The number of patients subjected to the excess radiation reached 206 before it came to the medical staff's attention. And that was only because someone undergoing a CT scan lost patches of hair.

Some of those overexposed received twice as much radiation as what a cancer victim receives during a radiation treatment. Hospital officials attributed the excess radiation exposures to an error in the CT scan machine's programming. But the Los Angeles incident has raised concerns about overexposure from CT and other radiation testing in the medical industry.

NYU Langone Medical Center associate professor of cardiology Dr. James Slater was shocked. "These patients received eight to ten times the normal dose for a head CT and probably reached their allowable radiation exposure for the year at a single test," he said. "The fact this error occurred and went undetected for 18 months at a well regarded medical [institution] is rather unbelievable."

Radiation exposure at hospitals isn't regulated

How many more programming errors and excess radiation from too many tests can occur is anyone's guess. The government has occupational limits for radiation exposure. But there are no government restrictions on the amount of radiation exposure for medical testing.

Dr. Gary Freedman, a radiation oncologist at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia explained the government's position. "It's assumed that medically, you do what you need to do and worry about the complications later."

Over-testing has been a common medical practice. Diagnostic imaging has increased the average radiation dosage seven times since 1980. Too much radiation increases the risk of cancer significantly.

Diagnostic imaging tests have the potential for creating the very problem they're looking for. This has been a concern of holistic health practitioners and aware MD's against promoting mammogram breast cancer screening for years.

Similar false positive results were found with males undergoing prostate cancer screening. False positives lead to stress, expense, time wasted, and perhaps pain and illness until the mistake is determined.

Sources for this article include:




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