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More Hospitals Call on Physicists to Keep Kids Safe

Medical physicists are starting to play a bigger role in hospitals across the country. (Children's Mercy)
Medical physicists are starting to play a bigger role in hospitals across the country. (Children's Mercy)
March 21, 2016

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - More and more hospitals across the country are starting to add full-time medical physicists to their staffs. That's the case at Children's Mercy Kansas City.

Dr. Nima Kasraie is the first full-time physicist in the hospital's Department of Radiology, and his goal is to make sure diagnostic imaging is as safe as possible for the state's smallest residents.

He says children's and adults' bodies are very different, and not just in terms of size.

"They are more sensitive to radiation, because of the way that the metabolism works," says Kasraie. "We have to be careful about the amount of radiation that we give to them, because that same amount of radiation that you give to an adult is not going to have the same effect on a 2 year old."

Kasraie says Children's Mercy has imaging equipment especially geared for pediatric radiology that uses 60 percent less radiation than other equipment.

Kasraie says parents naturally have a lot of fear and questions when their children need diagnostic imaging, and that's where he comes in.

"What are the risk effects of radiation 20 or 30 years down the road," he says. "My kid comes and gets a CT scan today, he's 3 years old - what are the risks and chances of 30 or 20 years down the road of developing some carcinogenic outcome?"

He adds just a few years ago, medical physicists were doing mostly research, but with today's advanced equipment, it's helpful to have a full-time person to operate it, and to find safer ways to use it, especially on children.

He says hospitals across the nation are turning to these medical scientists to do that.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - MO