CT scans

This just broke today: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/18/health/18radiation.html?_r=1&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=tha2

I think this has connections to medical rhetoric, risk communication, and technical communication, among other things.

What I find most interesting is that the lede focuses on exposure to radiation, while there are only a few sentences about this in the story:

“Double scans expose patients to extra radiation while heaping millions of dollars in extra costs on an already overburdened Medicare program. A single CT scan of the chest is equal to about 350 standard chest X-rays, so two scans are twice that amount.

‘The primary concern relates to radiation exposure,’ said Dr. James A. Brink, chief of diagnostic radiology at Yale-New Haven Hospital, where double scans accounted for only a fraction of 1 percent of cases. He added: ‘It is incumbent upon all of us to limit it to the amount needed to make a diagnosis.'”

More than that, we’re not really given any indications of the specific health consequences of this level of radiation. What are they, at these levels? Is this kind of concern over radiation really warranted, or is this actually about money??


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