Bullard and his colleagues suggested that the adoption of portable electronic medical records could help provide physicians with an easily accessible and clear indication of prior patient radiation exposure -- so doctors could make more judicious decisions regarding future testing.
Dr. James E. Winslow, an assistant professor at Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C., said the current study makes a lot of "good points."
"We've conducted our own study over the first few months of 2006 among 86 trauma patients, and we're finding average exposure levels of 41 mSV in just the first 24 hours of hospitalization," he said. "And some, certainly, had significantly more than that."
Winslow noted that over the course of an entire year, a Space Station astronaut will be exposed to 174 mSV.
"So, we're talking, potentially, about a big problem here," he said. "And I think doctors need to be aware that the screenings they are ordering do involve significant radiation output."
For details on diagnostic tests and radiation exposure, visit the Health Physics Society.