EC Directive Could Halt the Use of MRI

Published: Sep 25, 2007

The lack of joined-up thinking between Directorates General (DGs), the bodies within the European Commission which have responsibility for policies in different areas, is often cited as a reason why European legislation is either not as effective as it should be, or ends up having a very different outcome to that which was intended. The Directive on Good Clinical Practice, otherwise known as the clinical trials directive, is an example which is well known to the medical and scientific community. This was intended to harmonise regulations on clinical trials between member states, and thus create a level playing field and protect patients. In fact, it has had exactly the opposite effect and the number of academic clinical trials now carried out in Europe has dropped by about 30%. Just when we thought that lessons had been learned, along comes another piece of legislation that looks set to cause serious damage to medical practice. The Physical Agents (Electromagnetic Fields) Directive 2004/40/EC appears to be an eminently sensible attempt by DG Employment and Social Affairs to protect workers from exposure to radiation. But 3 years down the line, and only just before the April 2008 deadline for Member States to implement the directive into their own legislation, major concerns are being expressed about its impact on MRI scanning.

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