Documented patient radiation exposure suggested to decrease cancer risks
A CT scan, also known as computed tomography, is an important technological advance that helps diagnose illnesses that cannot be seen by the naked eye.
However, studies conclude that too many of these scans result in excessive radiation exposure to patients and increase their risk of developing cancer later in life.
Fortunately, a proposal has been suggested to help mitigate these cancer occurrences.
Heightened risk of cancer
During the past decade, numerous studies have shown that patients who received high doses of radiation from CT scans have an increased risk of developing cancer later in life.
A study published in 2012 by the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institute of Health (the world’s largest medical library located in Maryland) highlighted the risk of childhood CT scans and increased risks for leukemia and brain cancer. Specifically, the study surveyed patients (under age 22) who had CT scans while being treated at the National Health Service centre in Great Britain from 1985-2002. A follow-up was conducted years later and several patients had developed leukemia or brain tumors.
Patients who have received high doses of radiation have also been compared to victims of the Hiroshima bomb that occurred in 1945. Many victims of the bombing who received 50 millisieverts developed cancer years after exposure. Today, many patients who have received 5 CT scans or more have been exposed to the same level of radiation and are predicted to likely develop cancer as well.
To combat the problem, some medical experts suggest that every incidence of radiation exposure given to every person be available for all doctors and hospital personnel. Physicians should know how much exposure the patient they are treating has had so they can make an informed decision about whether to order another scan.
Advocates of the measure argue that if doctors and medical staff are equipped with this knowledge, they may think twice about ordering a ordering a CT scan that involves radiation exposure just to “see what they show.”
Instead of exposing a patient who has had number CT scans in past years, doctors may rely on that patient’s medical history, a physical examination, lab tests and medical knowledge of symptom complex in making a diagnosis. Additionally, doctors may opt for alternative nonradiation methods such as magnetic resonance images, commonly known as MRIs, or ultrasounds instead of radiation tests.
However, whichever is chosen, doctors should use their medical knowledge and expertise in making the decision.
Consulting with an experienced attorney
Britcher Leone, LLC understand the importance of sound medical decision making and recognize the importance of a risk benefit analysis when deciding to undergo a radiological exam.
When physicians do not do indicated testing where the benefit outweighs the small risk of radiation exposure, delayed diagnosis of an otherwise treatable condition can occur.
Only a careful analysis of the medical record can determine whether or not medical malpractice occurred.