Medical Experts On the Prevention of Radiation Overdoses

Medical_0004Prompted by recent news reports describing medical radiation overdoses, in some cases resulting in tragic consequences, the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Subcommittee on Health, held a hearing on February 26 to learn more about the risks and benefits of both diagnostic and therapeutic radiation. A group of expert witnesses representing academic medical institutions and professional organizations described how radiation is used in clinical practice.

The witnesses reported that, although accidents are rare and the vast majority of imaging studies and radiation treatments are performed safely and as prescribed, the current patchwork approach to regulation, oversight, and data management does little to reduce the potential for harm. There is extreme variability from state to state in education and certification requirements for the technical personnel who administer and supervise medical radiation procedures, and some states have no requirements, they reported. There was general consensus that action must be taken to minimize the cumulative doses of diagnostic radiation received by individual patients, establish minimum competence and training standards for radiology professionals at all levels, urge accreditation of facilities using medical radiation, mandate error reporting, and consider applying these measures nationally.

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