Experts say patient radiation exposure too high, often unnecessary

Medical malpractice is often associated with doctors, nurses or hospitals making errors during surgery, birth or when prescribing medications. Chicago patients often don’t think that anything could go wrong when doctors perform tests and screenings, unless the results of these tests are read inaccurately.

However, some patient safety advocates argue that doctors could actually be causing patients more harm by administering unnecessary tests. How much testing is too much for the body to handle? And could unnecessary medical tests lead to medical malpractice?

With major improvements and advancements in technology, tests including CT scans and treatments such as radiation therapy have helped thousands of physicians pinpoint the cause of patient illnesses and diseases. However, patients who are exposed to too many tests or tests without merit may be in danger, and doctors may need to be more conservative when requesting tests in order to protect their patients.

Even though radiation can be effective for treatment and revealing a number of medical conditions, it can also damage DNA and cause various forms of cancers decades after exposure. In fact, almost 2 percent of diagnosed cancers in the U.S. are suspected to have been caused by overexposure to radiation. It is estimated that one additional case of cancer will develop for every 1,000 patients who undergo cardiac CT scans.

According to experts, both patients and doctors should regulate the amount of tests that use radiation, and patients should research and understand what could be dangerous about going through such a procedure.

Overuse of radiation-based tests is becoming increasingly common, with the most common test being a CT scan, according to one radiology specialist. The specialist added that at least 10 percent of patients are exposed to high levels of radiation every year, which increases health risks and medical bills.

Instead of recommending high radiation-based exams, doctors do have the option to recommend other forms of treatment, especially for cancer. Patients should be informed and ask their doctors about all of their options when testing and treatments involving radiation are recommended.

Source: New York Times, “Medical radiation soars, with risks often overlooked,” Jane E. Brody, Aug. 20, 2012

  • Our firm represents patients and their families who have been harmed by medical negligence matters. To learn more about our firm and practice, please visit our Chicago medical malpractice attorneys page.

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