California bill would require recording of radiation dose

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The California Senate is considering a bill (SB 1237) that would require healthcare facilities and clinics that use CT scanners for diagnostic purpose to—if technologically feasible—record the radiation dose administered in the patient’s medical record.

If passed, the bill would go into effect Jan. 1, 2012, but wouldn’t be applicable to small and rural hospitals, or hospitals and clinics located in an area that is designated as medically underserved until Jan. 1, 2013.

The legislation also would require physicians or other practitioners, facilities or other entities that provided diagnostics MRI, CT and nuclear medicine services to be accredited by an organization approved by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

The bill is sponsored by Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Pacoima. During a hearing last month on the legislation, Padilla referred to the situation at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, in which over the course of 18 months more than 250 patients received excess doses of radiation while undergoing CT perfusion scans.

“The fact that these overdoses continued for 18 months speaks to the genuine need for protocols and safeguards to prevent overdoses in the future,” said Padilla during the hearing. “SB 1237 will establish those protocols and safeguards and require that radiation dosages be recorded on the scanned images and in a patient’s records. This will provide physicians the information they need to track dosage levels and prevent patients from receiving overdoses of radiation.”