California Enacts Law to Prevent CT Scan Radiation Overdoses

Senate Bill (SB) 1237 was just signed into law following reports that some 269 Cedars-Sinai Medical Center patients were exposed to dangerous radiation overdoses during CT scans that were a massive eight times larger than the doses prescribed, wrote Cardiovascular Business.

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the bill that includes protocols meant to protect patients from excess radiation exposure when undergoing CT scans, said Cardiovascular Business. The bill was written by Senator Alex Padilla (Democrat-Pacoima) and passed the State Assembly in California this August following the 18-month debacle at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles, noted Cardiovascular Business.

Padilla said that if healthcare providers treating the “first overexposed patient been aware of his radiation doses when reviewing the CT images or the patient’s records, the hospital would likely have discovered the overdoses and not inadvertently overexposed an additional 268 patients,” quoted Cardiovascular Business.

Bill mandates include that “radiation dosage levels be recorded on the scanned image and in a patient’s health records; and radiation overdoses be reported to the patient, the treating physician and the California Department of Public Health,” said Cardiovascular Business. The same monitoring/reporting standards must also be maintained for “therapeutic X-rays, accreditation of all facilities that conduct CT scans to federal standards, and an annual verification for the calibration of the CT scan equipment,” added Cardiovascular Business.

“There is an urgent need for protocols and safeguards to prevent radiation overdoses,” said Padilla. “This bill will provide physicians the information they need to track dosage levels, identify errors, and prevent patients from receiving overdoses of radiation,” reported Cardiovascular Business, which noted that CT scans in the US have topped 70 million from three million in 1980.

Imaging, which is quick and detailed, has increased significantly in the past 10 years, many times in favor of ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which do not use radiation. Radiation exposure does not cause pain and damage does not generally show up immediately; its effects accumulate over time, explained the Associated Press, previously.

We have long been writing about the dangerous issues surrounding CT scans and related radiation exposure risks, citing a range of experts urging for better regulation over these diagnostic tests. Long-term cancer risks and radiation overdoses are just two of the issues recently linked to this type of testing.

Most recently, Reuters reported that imaging tests often used in the treatment of pediatric cancers can lead to high radiation levels in young patients, which can later lead to repeat or new cancers.

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