While radiologists are aware of the risks and effects of various radiological procedures, physicians may not be as informed about these risks. That lack of knowledge places patients in harm’s way.
A recent study published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology (JACR) found that physicians in the United States practicing across multiple disciplines were far less informed about the effects and risks of radiation exposure than they needed to be. Researchers at the University Of Colorado in Denver surveyed healthcare providers from multiple disciplines over a span of two years. They found that 26% of providers were ill-informed about the expected effects of radiation exposure and risks associated with medical imaging procedures.
According to radiologists who participated in the study, it is critically important that health care providers and physicians who supervise radiological procedures or request medical imaging exams are better informed about the exposure involved in these procedures, as well as the risks and benefits involved. They must have this knowledge in order to be able to comfortably and accurately discuss all the risks and benefits of a procedure with their patients, prior to the patient undergoing an exam. The lack of a bare minimum level of understanding of safety issues involving radiation is troubling, and bodes very poorly for patients.
The study questioned more than 220 healthcare providers between 2014 and 2016 on topics related to ionizing risks, radiation exposure levels, effects of several imaging exams, differences in radiation exposure in patients based on their age groups, and the risks of developing cancer due to exposure. The providers included radiology professionals and primary care physicians, as well as representatives from the obstetrics, gynecology and family medicine fields. While radiologists had a much higher scoring in the survey, other providers lagged behind.
The researchers opine that physicians and healthcare providers can greatly benefit from even low-key educational interventions that are designed to increase their knowledge of radiation safety issues. Even basic educational interventions like these can affect a provider’s medical imaging ordering practices. Providers who benefit from such interventions are more likely to modify their imaging ordering habits based on radiation exposure levels, and risk information, rather than basing these recommendations on the cost of the procedure or guidelines associated with the procedure. When physicians make informed decisions that take into consideration the safety of the patient and not just standard parameters, there is a much lower risk of patient harm.
If you are up for a radiological procedure, reduce your chances of any risks associated with the procedure by discussing the procedure at length with your provider. Your provider should be able to specifically answer any queries or concerns that you might have regarding the test, and address your concerns about any short term or long -term risks associated with the procedure. If you suffer from a health condition that would complicate your imaging test, inform your provider about this.
The Indiana medical malpractice attorneys at Montross Miller Muller Mendelson & Kennedy, LLP represent victims of medical negligence across Indiana. This includes those who have been injured by the over-use or misuse of radiation treatments or procedures. Contact our office right away!