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South Carolina Health Officials Investigate Unnecessary CT Scans

CT scans should be handled with care because of the radiation involved. In fact, in many cases they shouldn't be done at all - especially full-body scans on apparently healthy people with no indicators of health problems.

There is evidence, however, that a company called Cancer Check America may have been doing scans in South Carolina despite the lack of a prescription from a doctor. The company began operating on Hilton Head Island last winter.

Several people told The Island Packet newspaper that scans were performed on them even though there was no previous consultation or physician's referral. State officials are investigating.

What prompted the investigation was the discovery that Cancer Check America has connections to a Colorado medical imaging company called Heart Check America that was closed by regulators because of legal violations. Heart Check America was getting only a small fraction of its clients from referrals by doctors, contrary to a state law requiring such referrals. And it was being supervised by a doctor who did not have a valid license.

In the South Carolina case, the investigation into the CT scans performed by Cancer Check America raises issues beyond the activities of one particular company. Even if CT scans are performed by a reputable, licensed provider, there are still potential issues regarding whether a given test is necessary and whether it is performed in a safe manner.

For example, tests involving radiation poses numerous potential health risks. Such tests should not be given unless they are truly needed and proper protective equipment is used.

Clearly better education of the general public concerning the potential risks of various health tests is needed. This is not only a matter of protecting people against unscrupulous companies, but preventing all types of medical errors.

Source: "Public looks to regulators to sort out CT scan issues," IslandPacket, 5-28-11

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