NIH to Track Radiation Exposure in Patients’ Medical Records

In the wake of growing concerns over CT scan radiation exposure and the risk of cancer, federal regulators have announced that they will begin tracking radiation doses given to patients.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) says that it’s own doctors will begin recording radiation doses for patients in medical records, according to an announcement in the most recent issue of the Journal of the American College of Radiology. Recording the dosages is expected to help doctors manage the risk of cancer due to radiation exposure over time.

NIH officials say that while they treat too few patients directly to use the information as a database of medical radiation exposure cancer risk, they hope that other hospitals will follow their lead. Their record-keeping will also not focus on radiation errors, but instead will watch the accumulation of radiation exposure fromĀ  a variety of treatments.

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CT scan procedures across the country are under close scrutiny by the FDA after the discovery that a number of patients have suffered radiation overexposure from CT Scans performed incorrectly. The FDA is currently reviewing CT scan procedures nationwide, and released interim guidance for health care professionals and radiologists in December. The guidance advised them to review procedures and CT scan settings, and to be thorough in checking the amount of dosage prescribed for each CT scan patient.

The recent FDA investigation was sparked by the discovery of CT scan radiation over-exposure problems that may have affected more than 200 patients at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles last year. Since then, the FDA has uncovered at least 50 more radiation CT errors.

A recent study by the National Cancer Institute concluded that CT scan radiation could be responsible for as much as 2% of all cases of cancer in the U.S. It is estimated that 29,000 people annually could develop cancer within five years of receiving a scan and about half of those people will die from the cancer.


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