The use of radiation-based imaging has risen dramatically in the past decade, and medical radiation now accounts for a significant proportion of all radiation exposure in the United States. Critically ill patients are often subjected to many CT scans and x-rays, but who is keeping track of when enough is enough?
When he noticed one of his patients had undergone 100 x-rays, Sudhir Krishnan, MD, Cleveland Clinic was concerned.
“I said, surely someone is keeping track of this, some regional, local, or national authority is keeping track on the amount of radiation exposure a patient typically gets and I realized that wasn’t the case.
There’s nobody,” explained Dr. Krishnan.
There is a standard federal limit for radiation dosage, but a recent Cleveland Clinic study revealed something shocking.
“Some exceeded a number of more than 100 milisiverts within these six days. By federal occupational standards that dose cannot be exceeded in five years and we have that happening in six days,” Dr. Krishnan continued.
As patients move from different facilities, the information about the radiation they have received isn’t transferred which could lead to …
“… patients could develop a certain kind of cancer because they’ve been exposed to a certain amount of radiation,” said Dr. Krishnan.
X-rays, cat scans, and fluoroscopic surgery are the most common sources of radiation. But Charles Martin, MD, Cleveland Clinic says something needs to change …
“Improving communication amongst the multiple specialties to see if there’s one way to get many pieces of information from one study,” Dr. Martin shared.
Talk to your doctor about it and be sure to ask:
“…if there is no suitable alternative and is absolutely necessary, then one would have to weigh the benefits versus risk and proceed with what’s required,” said Dr. Krishnan.
The Cleveland Clinic is working to develop a tool that tracks radiation doses and uses our electronic medical records as a home for all of this information.