Treatments

NIH Pushes For Radiation Reporting By Scanner Makers

If you get a bunch of tests and medicines in the hospital, the details on the results and doses will be dutifully recorded in your medical file.

NIH wants imaging equipment makers to automate adding patients radiation doses to records.

An X-ray shows tumors in the bones of a patient. Dr Ahmed Haroun/Wikimedia Commons hide caption

itoggle caption Dr Ahmed Haroun/Wikimedia Commons

But what about the amount of radiation you receive from CT scans, angiograms and old-fashioned X-rays? Not very likely.

That's a problem the National Institutes of Health will take a stab at solving. The NIH's own hospital will start putting the information in patients' electronic medical records. And NIH radiologists will require makers of imaging equipment to make the job easier by standardizing the way their machines keep track of the information and send it to record-keeping computers.

"What we've realized for a long time is there is no ability currently to understand at any given moment how many radiation-producing exams a patient has had," NIH's Dr. David Bluemke told Reuters in a phone interview.

If the NIH gets traction, it could make the practice more commonplace, especially if the administration's goal for standardized records takes off.

Americans are exposed to more and more radiation from medical tests these days. X-rays increase the risk of cancer, though the risk from low doses of x-rays still isn't well understood.

But without keeping track of the numbers, there's no good way for you, or your various doctors, to know how much radiation you've received. In an editorial for the Journal of the American College of Radiology, Bluemke and a colleague encourage other hospitals to make computerized radiation reporting a requirement when buying medical imaging equipment.

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