Local Clinic Hopes to Fend Off Shortage

Nuclear Medicine Director Amy Hudspeth
Nuclear Medicine Director Amy Hudspeth

A local clinic hopes to fend off a medical shortage. It stems from a reactor shutdown in Canada that supplies an ingredient for radioisotopes.

Radioisotopes are used in nuclear medical scans to help doctors diagnose heart disease and other serious illnesses.   The Amarillo Diagnostic Clinic says so far its supply has been enough for patients scans, but they're not taking chances.

"We've talked to our doctors and asked them to prioritize their patients and we discussed as a group which patients would need to be done first," says Nuclear Medicine Director Amy Hudspeth.

She says her clinic generally performs about 25 scans a day, and each one requires an injection of the radioisotope substance.  While doctors have not had to cancel any scans, they are postponing some.

"The things that can wait. The procedures and the exams that can wait, we are waiting and scheduling those patients into 2008," says Hudspeth.

Radioisotopes help light up internal organs on a scan so doctors can examine how well they're functioning. Both Northwest Texas and Baptist Saint Anthony hospitals tell us their supply lines have not been affected.