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Ionizing Radiation – For Fun And Profit!

Written by Wellness Club on March 5, 2009 – 4:19 pm -

Why Are Americans Being Exposed To So Much Radiation?

Opinion by Nurse Mark

There are a couple of things that have happened to conventional medicine over the past few decades that are not so very good at all.

One of those things, the dependence upon patented pharmaceutical prescription drugs for virtually every ill by most conventional doctors is somewhat related to the other which is a total dependence upon lab tests and radiology rather than "clinical skills" to lead to the formulation of a diagnosis and treatment plan.

You see, the average office visit of 8 to 12 minutes (and I’m being generous here) that’s allowed by the busy physician’s schedule simply does not permit much hands-on clinical diagnosis – nosiree – in that brief visit the poor harried clinic doc has about enough time to listen to the complaint, nod knowingly, and say something sage like "Hmmm… I think we’d better get some tests…" and then "While we’re doing that, let’s get you started on some of this…" at which point he (or she) will whip out the trusty prescription pad, scribble out the name of the "Drug-du-Jour" and order up what is known in medical circles as ATKTM (All Tests Known To Man).

ATKTM is ordered in the hope that one of the reports will come back with something that will justify the drug that was just ordered, or maybe even suggest a diagnosis.

Radiology reports are particularly good for this, and can save the busy doc a lot of time and trouble – here is the trick: Requision a radiologic survey or procedure, list some vague symptoms or complaints on the req. (short for requisition) and then let the radiology department figure out what is really needed and makes sense – they will call the doc with an alternate suggestion if they think he is on the wrong track – and then let the radiologist who reads the x-rays or scans provide the doc with a nice dictated report which will strongly suggest a diagnosis of some sort (or a "rule-out" of some condition) that the doc can then use during the inevitable 8 to 12 minute follow-up visit: "Well Mrs. Smith, the lab tests and x-rays show that your symptoms definitely do / do not relate to your gallbladder/heart/lungs/you-name-it."

If the answer was "do relate" then the doc can say "keep taking that medicine I gave you" and be done with the visit for now.

If the answer was "do not relate" then the doc can say "Keep taking that medicine I gave you and let’s do some more scans and tests" or "I’m going to refer you on to a specialist – I’ll have my friend Dr. Jones’ office contact you…" This is known in medical terms as the "Buff and Turf" – the doc has done some tests to "Buff" the patient’s chart and make it look good, and can now "Turf" the patient along to someone else, thus ending his responsibility. Neat, huh?

No wonder so many clinics and doctor groups have installed expensive medical imaging machines in their clinics – they make a huge profit and provide a great cover for a doc that is too busy to do a real, hands-on workup. And if there is not a C.T. Scanner right there in the clinic, there is probably one just down the road – maybe even in the local mall – that the patient can be sent to… (Dare I suggest that there might be a finders fee or small commission for the doctor? Nah… that couldn’t happen…)

I’m guessing that there is probably now a required class in medical school, and it is called something like "Ionizing Radiation – For Fun And Profit 101"

In The News:

Here is a report just issued by the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP) at its annual meeting in Bethesda, Maryland – I will reprint their press release in full here, since I’m guessing that a report this critical of conventional medicine might be hard to find in the near future.

For immediate release:

March 3, 2009 (12:00 PM)

Medical Radiation Exposure of the U.S. Population Greatly Increased Since the Early 1980s

In 2006, Americans were exposed to more than seven times as much ionizing radiation from medical procedures as was the case in the early 1980s, according to a new report on population exposure released March 3rd by the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP) at its annual meeting in Bethesda, Maryland.

In 2006, medical exposure constituted nearly half of the total radiation exposure of the U.S. population from all sources.

The increase was primarily a result of the growth in the use of medical imaging procedures, explained Dr. Kenneth R. Kase, senior vice president of NCRP and chairman of the scientific committee that produced the report. “The increase was due mostly to the higher utilization of computed tomography (CT) and nuclear medicine. These two imaging modalities alone contributed 36 percent of the total radiation exposure and 75 percent of the medical radiation exposure of the U.S. population.”

The number of CT scans and nuclear medicine procedures performed in the United States during 2006 was estimated to be 67 million and 18 million, respectively.

The NCRP Report No. 160, Ionizing Radiation Exposure of the Population of the United States, provides a complete review of all radiation exposures for 2006.

Background radiation, which in 2006 contributed fully half of the total exposure, comes from natural radiation in soil and rocks, radon gas which seeps into homes and other buildings, plus radiation from space and radiation sources that are found naturally within the human body.

Other small contributors of exposure to the U.S. population included consumer products and activities, industrial and research uses and occupational tasks.

NCRP is working with some of its partners like the American College of Radiology (ACR), World Health Organization and others to address radiation exposure resulting from the significant growth in medical imaging and to ensure that referrals for procedures like CT and nuclear medicine are based on objective, medically relevant criteria (e.g., ACR appropriateness criteria).

This year marks the 80th anniversary of NCRP’s founding and the 45th anniversary of its charter from the U.S. Congress under Public Law 88-376.

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