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Dear Doctor #1: Is Medical Radiation Safe?

When I've asked this question to doctors, I've received a practically unanimous response. I think you've probably encountered the same response if you've asked your doctor about the safety of radiation in CT scans or X-rays. The universal response, as if these doctors have been programmed to respond this way is that medical radiation is safe. Safe. It's safe. Medical radiation is safe. According to all doctors I have personally encountered, medical radiation is safe. The other response that I have heard is that medical radiation is low dose. It's low dose. Low dose. All medical radiation is low dose. It's really shocking to me that there is such a deep misunderstanding and miscommunication of medical radiation that is communicated by our doctors. I started to wonder why, so I asked my doctor friends their opinion of medical radiation. Again, they say it's relatively safe. They say it's low dose. When I asked them the dose, they have no clue. When I asked them if they learned about the dose of a CT scan in medical school, they said no, but they learned this and repeated it almost verbatim: "The benefits outweigh the harms. There's no reason to be concerned about medical radiation." Jokingly, I asked my doctor friend if she learned to tell patients that in medical school. She said yes. She said she was taught to reduce patient radiation phobias in medical school so that the patients wouldn't be concerned about the test. Oh. Ok. So I asked other doctor friends if they were taught to reduce radiation phobias in medical school. They all said yes. Hmm. Okay. So now I wonder, if the doctors actually had been taught the actual harms of medical radiation, how our healthcare system would look today.


So this first blog goes out to all doctors. Dear Doctor, Is medical radiation safe? If so, what level of radiation is harmful? Did you learn to minimize patient fears about medical radiation in medical school? Have you done any medical radiation research outside of medical school? Do you know the amount of radiation in a CT scan? Do you know how many millisieverts (mSv) are in a CT scan with and without contrast? Do you know the mSv in the lowest dose x-ray? Do you know how many low dose x-rays a CT scan is equivalent to? Do you know what diseases medical radiation can cause? Do you know what ionizing radiation is? Do you know the difference between ionizing radiation and ultraviolet radiation? Do you know the most harmful radiation on our planet? Let's discuss it.


In the next blog, I will tell you the answers the doctors gave and then give you the answers from radiation physicists and scientists.

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