Fox guarding henhouse? Radiologists want to "control" radiation debate

Radiology news site carries an account of the keynote speech at the International Symposium on Multidetector-Row CT, which provides interesting insight into the mindset of at least some in the radiology world when it comes to patient safety. My takeaway: be wary.

Dr. U. Joseph Schoepf, a professor of radiology at the Medical University of South Carolina is upset about the publication and promotion of research that demonstrates that radiation from medical imaging (especially CT scans) is potentially hazardous and may lead to cancers.  Here are a few things he said:

  • “Obviously, the discussion on radiation and how it is perceived by the public and our professional partners is very close to home as far as our livelihood is concerned… As the stewards of radiation and medical imaging, I believe the discussion on those matters should be ours to control.”
  • The profession should be telling the story of the “dramatic dose reductions” in recent years due to technology and awareness
  • People who publish studies questioning the safety of imaging have ulterior motives, i.e., to reduce radiologists’ incomes
  • “In my opinion, if there is a proper indication [for the exam], the benefits will always outweigh the risks”

Dr. Schoepf was speaking to a partisan crowd of people who make quite a good living from the use of CT, so maybe it’s unreasonable to expect him to be objective. But as I read his attacks on the motives of other researchers, see his bias toward imaging and dismissiveness of valid concerns it sure doesn’t make me think I want him controlling the radiation debate.

Of course radiologists should have an important role in the discussion, just not the propaganda-oriented one that Schoepf apparently favors.

June 18, 2013

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