Radiation safeguards said to lag amid advances in technology


In a front-page story, the New York Times (1/27, A1, Bogdanich) reports that advances in radiation technology have “created new avenues for error in software and operation.” Accident reports show that “many of these mistakes could have been caught had basic checking protocols been followed.” In fact, a review of the radiotherapy unit at a Veterans Affairs Medical Center in New Jersey by the American College of Radiology revealed that “medical personnel lacked the training and knowledge to safely administer IMRT treatments, quality control was virtually nonexistent, vital safety procedures were performed by unqualified employees, and patients had little or no follow-up.” Furthermore, the marketplace is “largely unregulated” as the government has “been slow to respond.” As a result, “radiation accidents are chronically underreported,” and manufacturers are “offering the latest technology, with only a cursory review by the government.”