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Medical radiation risks must be explained to patients

CT imaging, though, can produce as much as as 500 times the radiation of an X-ray, and experts have estimated that as many as 20% in Canada are ordered needlessly. U.S. studies suggest the risk of cancer from a single CT scan ranges from one in 2,000 to one in 300, depending on the dose and other factors.

Patients must be told of CT-scan dangers: doctors, Tom Blackwell, National Post , Nov. 26, 2010 As CT scans and similar procedures are ordered increasingly often, doctors should be forced to tell patients about the potential radiation-based cancer risk, two Canadian physicians have urged in a major U.S. medical journal.

A mandatory program would better inform patients who are rarely told about the dangers now, and might reduce the number of unnecessary scans, the authors argue.The paper in the Journal of theAmerican Medical Association this month makes one of the strongest statements yet about the issue of medical radiation exposure, which has been drawing increasing attention — and heated debate –in recent years.

“The medical profession cannot rely on industry, government or the legal system to solve the dilemma of whether and how to discuss radiation risks with patients,” write Drs. Mark Baerlocher, a radiology resident from Toronto, and Allan Detsky, former physician-in-chief at Mount Sinai Hospital. “A program of mandatory informed consent is needed.”

They say patients should be told about the risks for tests and procedures that generate relatively high levels of ionizing radiation, such as computed tomography (CT) scans, many nuclear medicine exams and imaging used in much minimally invasive surgery……..

……In Canada, more than four million CT scans were carried out in 2008-09, up 50% from just four years ago, says the Canadian Institute for Health Information.

CT imaging, though, can produce as much as as 500 times the radiation of an X-ray, and experts have estimated that as many as 20% in Canada are ordered needlessly. U.S. studies suggest the risk of cancer from a single CT scan ranges from one in 2,000 to one in 300, depending on the dose and other factors.

Another study has concluded that less than 10% of patients are told about the risks.

Patients must be told of CT-scan dangers: doctors

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November 26, 2010 - Posted by | Canada, health | , , , ,

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