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Radiation Emergencies and the Practicing Physician

William R. Hendee, PhD; Theodore C. Doege, MD
JAMA. 1987;258(5):677. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03400050119040.
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Nuclear power and its risks have long been a contentious issue in this country. Advocates of the technology insist that the hazards are miniscule and that nuclear energy has the potential to provide an almost unlimited supply of electricity with little risk to individuals or the environment. Critics reply that the technology threatens the health of communities and even the survival of the human race. This polarization of viewpoints has prevented meaningful discussions between proponents and opponents.

Planning for radiation emergencies is a topic for which there have been only sporadic attempts at dialogue. Some physicians and scientists concerned about their abilities to respond to radiation emergencies claim that their overtures to utility companies for information and discussion have been rebuffed with the statement that an event requiring major medical resources cannot occur. In contrast, representatives of utility companies say they are willing to discuss the need to plan for


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