This week in Maryland, the manufacturers of radiology equipment met to discuss the planned fail-safe devices for machines set to be sold in the next two years. The goal is to create machines with software that prevents or minimizes errors in radiation dosage.
Radiation overdose is not just an abstract concern, but can cause real injuries and death—see an article by the New York Times about radiation accidents and a 43-year-old man who was rendered deaf, visually impaired, burned, and with ulcers in his mouth and neck before he finally succumbed to radiation-caused injuries.
Some “fixes” that need to be instituted are ways to ensure the radiation is properly directed and that the radiation dose is age-appropriate. Many machines used now rely on the technologist’s discretion for when and how to perform these safety checks. New machines will make the process mandatory at set intervals.
It’s easy to forget that x-rays and CT scanners can be dangerous because they become so familiar and commonplace in our medical care. But, there are dangers, and patients have the right to ask questions and to ensure their medical team has carefully calibrated this equipment before using it.