Saturday, April 21, 2012
Family Medicine Activist: Radiation Safety- Who Cares?
In 2010, 80 million CT scans were done in the United States. In 15-20 years, those scans will have generated 30,000-60,000 cancers in the recipients of the 2010 CT radiation by conservative estimates. I have concerns about the amount of imaging done in our country. The business models of the CT owners and users may be driving the use of CT more than the clinical decision making processes of the physicians ordering the scans. Will it slow down? No way. Here's a good article published this year by the American Cancer Society in CA A Cancer Journal for Clinicians:
Cancer Risks Associated With External Radiation from Diagnostic Imaging Procedures
Should you be informed of the benefits and potential harms of a CT scan if someone recommends one for you? Do you know even one person who went to an ER, got a CT scan (or two, or even three) and was informed of the potential benefits and harms of the test? I am a physician--I don't. I now ask patients daily (OK 3 or 4 days a week) if they received what's called Informed Consent forms to read and sign before they got a CT scan. NO ONE gave informed consent for the CT scans. NOT ONE PERSON remembered giving INFORMED CONSENT for their ER CT scan. NOT ONE.
If a test could lead to an increased risk of cancer, does a patient have a right to know that in deciding whether to go ahead with the path recommended by the physician they just met in the ER? Or even their personal physician? Should patients be informed? Should patients care about radiation safety?
What do you think?