In the first law of its kind, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed a bill that will require health facilities to notify the state Department of Public Health any time a patient receives a radiation dose in an imaging scan that exceeds 20% of what was intended.
Effective July 1, 2012, the law requires that CT scanners receive accreditation by an organization approved by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services by Jan. 1, 2013.
The legislation comes in the wake of several incidents in California hospitals in which patients received dangerous overdoses of CT radiation. A year ago, officials at Cedars-Sinai disclosed that 260 patients who underwent CT brain perfusion scans to detect a stroke between February 2008 and September 2009 had developed rashes and hair loss, and were at increased risk of developing cataracts.
The radiation dosages were estimated at as much as eight times what the patients should have received, according to hospital statements.
In 2008, at Mad River Community Hospital in Humboldt County, a two-year old boy who had fallen out of bed received 151 scans during a 65-minute imaging test, and an excessive overdose of radiation.
Under the new law, hospitals and clinics that use computed tomography X-ray systems for human use will be required to record, if the CT systems are capable, the dose of radiation on every CT study produced during the administration of a CT examination, according to the California Legislative Counsel's digest.