Last year, a New England Journal of Medicine study revealed that as many as 4 million adults in the United States, under the age of 65, are being exposed to high, potentially cancer causing levels of radiation. The source of the radiation was not airport scanners, power lines or cell phones, but instead it was from too many medical tests.

Americans are exposed to the most medical radiation in the world. We are overtested and overtreated by healthcare professionals through advanced procedures like CT scans, “super X-rays" and mammograms. The danger of these tests is the exposure to radiation. Each individual test that uses radiation poses little risk, but over time, the dose from multiple tests accumulates. “Super X-rays" used to check for heart problems account for nearly a quarter of the radiation people received.

Doctors are concerned that advanced tests such as CT scans are being over-prescribed and that they are simply unnecessary in certain situations. In many cases, tests such as MRI scans or sonograms, which do not involve radiation, could be used instead.

What should patients do to protect themselves? It is critical to ask questions about the need for the test, the number of scans and the amount of radiation involved, in order to be well informed.

Tests like CT scans deliver substantial radiation to the chest and abdomen, where cancer is likely to develop. Patients should also keep a record of the image and dose information and make sure that the test is truly needed. It is also important to consider alternatives like ultrasound or an MRI, and to limit the number of scans whenever possible. Remember, radiation accumulates in the body, so be aware and try to limit your exposure. If you have been exposed to unnecessary, excessive radiological medical tests, you may have legal remedies. Contact an experienced attorney for a comprehensive analysis of your legal rights.