Radiation serves many purposes in medicine. It is used for tracing broken bones, lung lesions, heart defects, tumors and is treatment for cancer. However, overexposure to radiation due to medical negligence or medical necessity can also cause damage to DNA, which may ultimately result in cancer after 10 to 20 years.
Computed tomography scans rank as the most frequently used procedure for imaging, usually for cancer. Unfortunately, these scans cause 10 percent of patients to be exposed to very high radiation levels. Radiation accounts for 1.5 percent of all cancer cases in the United States.
A recent study has shown that the rate of patients who undergo radiation-based procedures has increased dramatically over the last several years. According to experts, the key to safer exposure is to balance the risks and benefits when using medical radiation.
Doctors should be cautious when it comes to ordering radiation-based procedures such as x-rays and CT scans because they might pose serious side effects to patients in the future. If there are options other than radiation which may be used alternatively, these options may allow patients to avoid possible exposure to cancer-causing elements.
Compensation may be awarded to patients and their families in the event of harm caused by overexposure to radiation due to medical negligence of healthcare professionals. A doctor's failure to protect his or her patients from overexposure to radiation may be considered medical malpractice. Damages may also be awarded for the past, present and future medical expenses of the patients or the victims. If you have questions related to harm caused by radiation overexposure, please contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney to explore your options.
Source: The New York Times, "Medical Radiation Soars, With Risks Often Overlooked," Jane E. Brody, Aug. 20, 2012