I abhor getting X-rayed, and every time a doctor or dentist requests one for myself or a family member I always ask myself: Is this necessary or is he/she just practicing defensive medicine? In one event, I refused to be X-rayed for a routine dental appointment and had to sign a waiver acknowledging my refusal. In another event, my son was rushed to the emergency room for an asthma attack and the doctor persuaded me to allow him to get a chest X-ray in case he had pneumonia. In retrospect I should have refused because the likelihood that he had pneumonia was extremely remote (I knew he had chronic asthma, the emergency room doctor did not know his medical history). Furthermore, I ended up paying $400 out of pocket for this frivolous procedure (just so the doctor could cover her ass). In yet another event, my wife was subjected to a chest CT scan after reacting positively to a TB test. She did not have tuberculosis, but they found a "granuloma" in her lungs and wanted to subject her more CT scans to an horribly intrusive operation just to see if it was pre-cancerous. We refused, because (based on some research I did online) we decided that the exposure to the radiation from all the CT scans was worse than the minuscule risk that the granuloma could become cancer.

I just came upon this really cool chart that puts all of this in perspective. Based on this chart, the radiation from dental X-rays is negligible, and a chest X-ray is no worse than the average background radiation someone gets over two days. However, a CT scan is the equivalent of a whooping 350 chest X-rays! Hence, we do not regret refusal to have more of CT scans.