Even though the atomic-energy industry has a good safety record and careful management has resulted in fewer accidents than might reasonably be expected, serious radiation accidents continue to occur in the United States. As reactors and radioisotope programs increase in number, additional accidents both here and abroad are to be expected, and physicians will inevitably be called upon to give medical care to the injured. Thus, it is becoming increasingly important for physicians to be able to diagnose illness caused by radiation exposure, sometimes even in the absence of a history of exposure.
The March issue of the Archives of Environmental Health1 summarizes current information on the diagnosis and treatment of radiation casualties, including sources of consultation and assistance. The physician who deals with such an accident must provide the best possible care for those injured; he is also obligated to assist in collecting information—clinical, hematologic, cytogenetic, and biochemical—on