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Powerful NYT story on potential harms of medical radiation

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Walt Bogdanich and a team of reporters produced a powerful package entitled, “Radiation Offers New Cures, and Ways to Do Harm.

He profiled two people who died – one who received seven times his prescribed dose and one who absorbed “27 days of radiation overdoses, each three times the prescribed amount.” But the story also was built on months of research and examination of thousands of pages of public and private records and dozens of interviews.

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What makes this so important is that, as the story explains, Americans receive far more medical radiation than ever before. And some of it comes from technologies about which there is tremendous professional enthusiasm – such as IMRT or intensity-modulated radiation therapy. “Without a doubt,” the story states, “radiation saves countless lives and serious accidents are rare. But patients often know little about the harm that can result when safety rules are violated and ever more powerful and technologically complex machines go awry.”

I’m not going to post more excerpts here because you should read the entire piece and note the other elements of this rich multimedia package – video, interactive graphics, photos, and information graphics.

Powerful, tragic, important. Terrific journalism.

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