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Radiation Scandal Mushrooms in Hospitals Across the Country

By Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo Plotkin & Hellman LLP

In what may be a long and far-reaching investigation, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has deepened its probe of over-radiation occurring during CT scans in several hospitals across the country. The over-radiation of stroke patients who had CT scans to diagnose their strokes was first reported in August 2009 by officials from Cedars-Sinai after doctors investigated the odd symptoms suffered by an executive producer after he was treated in the Cedars-Sinai ER for stroke.

After stroke treatment, from which the patient recovered, he reported red welts all over his body and then his hair began to fall out in clumps. The patient lost all hair in a four-inch wide swath around his head. This became the prototypical symptom for patients at Cedars-Sinai who had been over-dosed with radiation — that number reached 269.

But the over-dosing was not limited to Cedars-Sinai. Well over a hundred more patients at Glendale Adventist, USC Medical Center, Bakersfield Memorial Hospital and Providence St Joseph Medical in California, South Lake Hospital in Florida and Huntsville Hospital in Alabama also received over-radiation, and now face the potential of cancer and brain damage in their future. Overall, the FDA has confirmed at least 400 over-radiation cases nationwide, and some officials fear that those numbers may be tip the iceberg as other states begin to investigate.

Hospitals Point the Finger at CT Scanner Manufacturers

Although the FDA has investigated the excessive radiation for nearly a year, it still hasn’t come up with an answer for why so many people were over-dosed on radiation. Because radiation technology is not tightly regulated, officials in Alabama even deny that over-radiation occurred because no limits have been set for radiation.

Some of the hospitals involved acknowledged that CT scanner technicians were not properly trained and may have over-dosed patients. But hospitals also point to CT scanner manufacturers like GE Healthcare and Toshiba, which may have deliberately programmed the CT scanners to deliver more radiation to obtain clearer imagery of the brain during the scan. Features on the CT scanners also did not work as technicians anticipated and may have delivered more, not less, radiation when used.

As the scope of the investigation widens, patients who have yet to be informed by hospitals about their over-exposure to radiation have linked the eerie bald pattern they suffer by finding newspaper pictures of others with the same bald pattern who have been over-radiated. It is likely that more patients across the nation will find out that they have been over-radiated after seeking treatment for stroke symptoms.

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