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At Congressional hearing, medical experts demand better regulation of therapeutic and diagnostic radiation

The New York Times reported on February 27 that more than a dozen witnesses, including several representatives of powerful medical groups, demanded closer oversight of the medical use of radiation.  They pointed to the increased use of very complicated intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) as an example:  these IMRT machines are being marketed as a competitive profit-center and are being purchased and operated with inadequate training of personnel. 

Few states require any form of licensure or certification by employees who operate these radiation therapy or diagnotic machines; institutions are usually not required to report errors; and there is little or no penalty in most states for making errors.  CT scans are widely perceived to be primarily responsible for the seven-fold increase since 1980 in lifetime diagnostic radiation (apparently the radiation received in a single abdominal CT-scan is the equivalent of 1500 dental x-rays).  An expert from the American College of Radiology testified that fewer than twenty percent of radiotherapy units in the U.S. are accredited and suggested that such accreditation should be mandatory given the risks involved and the lack of standardization.

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