Experts Call for More Regulation of CT Scans

The issues surrounding <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/practice_areas/defective_medical_devices">CT scans and the related radiation exposure risks have been making headlines in recent months. Now, experts are urging for increased regulation over these devices, said The Associated Press (AP). The AP noted that long-term cancer risks and radiation overdoses are just two of the issues linked to the devices.

We recently wrote, citing the AP, that although radiation seems to be everywhere, from “airport scanners, power lines, cell phones … microwaves,” the worst comes from medical scans, with Americans—accounting for half of the more sophisticated medical procedures utilizing radiation–receive the largest quantities.

The current issue of the New England Journal of Medicine and a prior AP report both cited the overuse of these tests and that the typical American’s radiation exposure has been increasing. The average American receives radiation doses six times greater than in previous decades, said the AP previously, which noted that too much radiation increases cancer risks. And, the risk is increasing because the incidence of imaging tests is increasing, said the AP.

CT scans use much more radiation than regular X-rays, but deliver crisper, sharper images, noted the AP. The downside is that too much radiation can, over time, increase cancer risks.

We also recently wrote that the President’s Cancer Panel (PCP) stated that the link between environmental carcinogens and cancers are much greater than ever realized, pointing to the huge increase in exposure to medical radiation. The PCP report pointed out that medical radiation exposure increased from 15 percent in the 1980s to a whopping 48 percent today, wrote DotMed.com. While imaging has helped in the fight against cancer, said the PCP, the increased exposure experienced in recent years is worrisome.

As an example, the group said that a typical “organ dose range for computed tomography (CT),” when considering multiple scans and operator administration, “is 5-100 mSv,” which is the same as the doses an “average Hiroshima bomb drop survivor who stood several thousand yards from ground zero” experienced, said DotMed.

Now, said the AP, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Congress are looking into enhanced processes for the prevention of medical mistakes. But, added the AP, more people actually face the potential of harm from “overused, repeated, or unnecessary” scans. One of the issues is that while the FDA regulates the devices, it is not allowed to say how the devices are used and no standards exists for radiation doses, said the AP.

Dr. Rebecca Smith-Bindman, a radiologist at the University of California at San Francisco who is on temporary leave conducting radiation research at the National Cancer Institute said, “The doses are much higher and much more variable than people realize,” quoted the AP. The AP previously wrote that overuse occurs for a wide variety of reasons including that doctors rely on testing to double- and triple-check treatment plans; fear of malpractice lawsuits; pressure from patients seeking action; disorganization; insurance problems, including that insurers demand testing; lack of nonradiation tests; and treatment choices that involve more radiation tests.

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