Because we have a profit-based system, these tests are ordered when they shouldn’t be – but doctors are between a rock and a hard place, because insurance companies won’t pay them for treating a condition unless it was verified by a test:
We fret about airport scanners, power lines, cell phones and even microwaves. It’s true that we get too much radiation. But it’s not from those sources — it’s from too many medical tests.
Americans get the most medical radiation in the world, even more than folks in other rich countries. The U.S. accounts for half of the most advanced procedures that use radiation, and the average American’s dose has grown sixfold over the last couple of decades.
Too much radiation raises the risk of cancer. That risk is growing because people in everyday situations are getting imaging tests far too often. Like the New Hampshire teen who was about to get a CT scan to check for kidney stones until a radiologist, Dr. Steven Birnbaum, discovered he’d already had 14 of these powerful X-rays for previous episodes. Adding up the total dose, “I was horrified” at the cancer risk it posed, Birnbaum said.