Radiation Patients Endanger Public, Congressman Says

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media , October 21, 2010

The public is being unwittingly exposed to potentially dangerous levels of radiation from patients released from the hospital after undergoing therapy with radioactive isotopes, according to Rep. Edward J. Markey, (D-MA).

In a letter Wednesday to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, he said this has occurred "because of weak NRC regulations, ineffective oversight of those who administer these medical treatments, and the absence of clear guidance to patients and to physicians that provide procedures to ensure that such exposures do not occur."

The rules were weakened in 1997, when standards required hospitalization of patients emitting high levels of radiation in order to protect children and other members of the public.  Today, those radiation treatments are permitted on a less expensive outpatient basis, he wrote.

Many patients responded to a federal survey that they were never told that their treatment could expose vulnerable patients to potentially harmful radiation.

Markey says the NRC should immediately revise its 1997 rule making hospitalization mandatory for patients treated with levels of the isotope I-131 at doses above internationally accepted thresholds. It should also aggressively enhance its oversight of both its medical licensees and the agreements states to better identify, track and respond to regulatory violations.

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4 comments on "Radiation Patients Endanger Public, Congressman Says"

MBR (10/21/2010 at 11:18 PM)
Whistle blowers are almost 100% put down as lunatics or idiots. I am a healthcare worker and have long wondered about radiation exposure when patients are tx in out-patient settings. I applaud Senator Markey for having the courage to speak up and begin the discussion, and perhaps testing, to better protect everyone involved with radiation treatments.

Michael (10/21/2010 at 5:06 PM)
Who is this guy, you might ask? Chairman of both the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming and the House Energy and Commerce Energy and the Environment subcommittee. He was instrumental in passing a cap-and-trade system, and probing the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. That helps explain the numerous fallacies in his statements regarding these life-saving radiation procedures. I have been in this field for 30 years, and what I am reading here is pure trash and pre-election hype.

Joanna (10/21/2010 at 11:31 AM)
Ignorant. It's the only thing that comes to mind after reading the article about radiation endangering the public. I sure hope Rep Markey or his family or loved ones, don't have to endure radiation treatments. What a pathetic and ignorant thing to say. Radiation treatments are NOT harmful. His cell phone emits more harmful radiation waves than a person undergoing radiation treatments. Typical uneducated comment.




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