Nukewatch Quarterly Fall 2013
DAVIS, California — New research published in June’s American Medical Association journal Pediatrics suggests that one year’s worth of CT scanning in the United States “would produce 4,879 future cancers in children under 15.” Lead author Diana Migliorette, from the University of California, Davis, found that in seven US health care systems, four million CT scans were conducted on children under age 15 between 1996 and 2010. Averaging the dose of radiation delivered, the scientists found that as many as 25 percent (one million) of the children got 20 millisieverts or more from a single abdominal scan. A chest X-ray’s average dose is only 0.1 millisieverts.
In a related shocker, Congressional investigators from the Government Accountability Office report that doctors with a financial interest in radiation treatment centers are “much more likely to prescribe such treatments for prostate cancer” than those without stock in the facilities. The GAO said that even though alternate treatments may be just as effective and less expensive, a similar pattern of docter-recommended but unnecessary scans is evident, “when doctors owned laboratories and imaging centers that billed Medicare for CT scans…”
Senator Max Baucus, D-Montana, told the Times, “When you look at the numbers in this report, you start to wonder where health care stops and profiteering begins.” Representative Sander Levin, D-Michigan, said “this analysis confirms that financial incentives, not patients’ needs, are driving some referral patterns.”
— New York Times, July 16 & Aug. 19; NationalPublic Radio, June 11, 2013