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Physicians' Obligations in Radiation Issues

Merle K. Loken, MD, PhD
JAMA. 1987;258(5):673-676. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03400050115039.
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EVERYONE has inborn fears of the unknown, and, to many, one of these unknowns is ionizing radiation. Thus, radiation issues continue to be a matter of great public concern. In this context we, as physicians, have responsibilities in radiation matters to protect, insofar as possible, the physical and emotional health of our patients by preventing and/or minimizing the illnesses and injury that might be caused by radiation. To accomplish this goal, certain basic concepts need to be understood (Table 1). These concepts serve as the basis of this presentation. They have been considered in detail in various publications1-13 and can only be highlighted here.

Sources of Radiation Exposure  Ionizing radiations used in the practice of medicine come from radioactive materials and from x-ray machines. Radiation to which we are exposed also comes from natural sources, such as cosmic radiation and radioactivity in building materials and soil. On the average,


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The American Medical Association is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The AMA designates this journal-based CME activity for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM per course. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. Physicians who complete the CME course and score at least 80% correct on the quiz are eligible for AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM.
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