Last week in this space we talked about the serious risk posed to newborn infants, particularly those babies that are born prematurely, of excessive exposure to radiation from unnecessary and improperly administered x-rays and CT scans. Unfortunately this is not a unique problem that occurred at one single hospital, patients across the country are receiving dangerous levels of radiation due to improper techniques.
There is a bill in Congress which would attempt to address this issue, but as of yet has not gained the necessary traction to make it through both houses. Currently, some states do not regulate radiological technologists in any way, or only have minimal regulations. The Congressional bill, known as the CARE Act would institute minimum requirements for those involved in radiological exams as well as requiring continuing education. Continuing education can be especially important in this field as new and increasingly powerful radiotherapy equipment comes into use.
As we mentioned last week, premature infants can be at high risk for excessive radiation exposure because of the large number of x-rays or CT scans required for their treatment. Unfortunately these tiny infants often go without the proper screening to reduce the exposure as much as possible. A pediatric radiologist interviewed for a New York Times article on this issue thinks that one of the reasons premature infants may not get the proper shielding is that radiologists, without the proper training, are afraid to handle the delicate babies to properly position the lead shielding.
The bill setting is expected to come before Congress this month.
Source: The New York Times "X-Rays and Unshielded Infants" WALT BOGDANICH and KRISTINA REBELO, February, 27, 2011