NIH to Track Radiation From Scans

October 2009

The National Institutes of Health will require new CT and PET equipment purchased by the agency's clinical center to routinely record the patient's radiation dose in their hospital-based electronic medical record.

"The [NIH] Clinical Center's approach is an important first step in making it possible to more easily document and track information about a patient's exposure to radiation," Dr. John I. Gallin, director of the center, said in a press statement.

The risks associated with exposure to low doses of radiation from medical imaging tests are unknown. However, the effects of radiation exposure are cumulative over a lifetime. The ability to track a person's radiation exposure will help researchers evaluate the health risks of these procedures.

The center plans to work with its vendors to develop software tools to extract the type of examination, the date, and the radiation dose for uploading to an electronic health record.

Both the American College of Radiology and the Radiological Society of North America recommend that patients keep a record of their x-ray history, according to the NIH statement.


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