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Medical-Imaging Companies To Increase Safeguards on Devices

More Radiation Overdoses Reported In Missouri

2 min read
Medical-Imaging Companies To Increase Safeguards on Devices

The Medical Imaging & Technology Alliance (MITA) which according to its web site represents companies whose sales comprise more than 90 percent of the global market for medical imaging technology announced yesterday that they "will add a color-coded warning system to give health care providers clear warning when they are doing scans that give patients potentially dangerous doses of radiation", according to Reuters and other news reports.

The MITA announcement comes one day before the US House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee'sSubcommittee on Health is to hold a hearing that is going to examine the benefits and risks of radiation use in medicine. The hearing was sparked by numerous reports over the past year of numerous patients receiving radiation overdoses by mistake because of operator errors, hardware or software errors, etc.

I blogged about the problem in January.

The new warning system will be in machines made by General Electric, Toshiba Corp, Hitachi Ltd, Siemens and Philips, and will be rolled out later this year.

According to Reuters, the new warning system will show "a yellow alert screen when the dose is higher than expected. It would also offer a red alert warning when a patient is about to be given a dangerous dose of radiation."

It may be just me, but I would have thought this would have been standard equipment a long time ago.

New machines sold will have the warning system in place while older machines will receive software upgrades to provide the agreed to changes.

Just this week, the New York Times which has been following this issue closely (see here, here and here) reported that 76 patients of the CoxHealth Hospital in Springfield, Missouri had been over-radiated over a course of five years. The over-radiation apparently occurred because the machine was originally improperly calibrated during its installation and the on-site imaging company representative did not catch the error.

Only two weeks ago, the US Food and Drug Administrationannounced "an initiative to reduce unnecessary radiation exposure from three types of medical imaging procedures: computed tomography (CT), nuclear medicine studies, and fluoroscopy."  The FDA is becoming concerned that patients are being unnecessarily exposed to radiation.

As noted by Reuters, CTscans expose a patient to more than 100 times the radiation dose of a typical chest X-ray. In 1980, there were some 3 million CT scans performed in the US while there were 70 million scans performed in 2007.

The Conversation (0)
Illustration showing an astronaut performing mechanical repairs to a satellite uses two extra mechanical arms that project from a backpack.

Extra limbs, controlled by wearable electrode patches that read and interpret neural signals from the user, could have innumerable uses, such as assisting on spacewalk missions to repair satellites.

Chris Philpot

What could you do with an extra limb? Consider a surgeon performing a delicate operation, one that needs her expertise and steady hands—all three of them. As her two biological hands manipulate surgical instruments, a third robotic limb that’s attached to her torso plays a supporting role. Or picture a construction worker who is thankful for his extra robotic hand as it braces the heavy beam he’s fastening into place with his other two hands. Imagine wearing an exoskeleton that would let you handle multiple objects simultaneously, like Spiderman’s Dr. Octopus. Or contemplate the out-there music a composer could write for a pianist who has 12 fingers to spread across the keyboard.

Such scenarios may seem like science fiction, but recent progress in robotics and neuroscience makes extra robotic limbs conceivable with today’s technology. Our research groups at Imperial College London and the University of Freiburg, in Germany, together with partners in the European project NIMA, are now working to figure out whether such augmentation can be realized in practice to extend human abilities. The main questions we’re tackling involve both neuroscience and neurotechnology: Is the human brain capable of controlling additional body parts as effectively as it controls biological parts? And if so, what neural signals can be used for this control?

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