Posted: Jul 13, 2012 9:17 AM by NBC News (CC)
A new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association states nearly two million people annually were exposed to unnecessary radiation during a 15-year period.
Researchers said patients may be getting too much radiation from certain medical tests.
"CT scanning, even though it's only in about 10% of studies, accounts for 70% of the radiation exposure," said Radiologist Dr. Rebecca Smith-Bindman who looked at large health care systems throughout the U.S. and found potentially unnecessary radiation exposure in one to two million patients.
"At the beginning of the study, CT scanning went from about 50 scans per thousand enrollees to about 150 scans. MRI went from just under 20 scans per thousand enrollees to 65 scans," she said.
Doctors said there is a need to standardize tests to create new guidelines for who needs what and how often.
In the meantime, they said patients can protect themselves by asking if a test is really necessary and requesting the test with the lowest radiation.