Hospital mistake causes more than 200 patients to receive radiation over dose

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles admitted Monday that more than 200 brain scans performed at the hospital in the past 18 months resulted in patients receiving more than 8 times the normal dose or radiation.

According to a report in The Los Angeles Times, the hospital made a mistake in setting a CT scan machine for a test called CT brain prefusion scan. The test was done on approximately 206 patients since February 2008. The hospital discovered their error when a stroke patient contacted the hospital and told them about hair loss after the scan. The hospital then contacted 206 patients who had undergone the CT brain perfusion scan and they found that 40% had patch hair loss and some also mentioned reddening of the skin.

The CT scan machine was manufactured by GE. GE said that there were no malfunctions or defects in the machine but the mistake was made when the radiologist did an override on the pre-programmed instructions. Usually, when radiologists override pre-programmed settings, it is to lower the radiation settings for children and small adults. Too much radiation can raise a person’s cancer risk.

Since the error was discovered, the Food and Drug Administration has asked that all hospitals check their CT scan protocols.

Cedars-Sinai provided a written statement that said:

“There was a misunderstanding about an embedded default setting applied by the machine. As a result, the use of this protocol resulted in a higher than expected amount of radiation.”

A CT scan is a medical imaging method which allows radiologists to generate a three-dimensional image to supplement x-rays. It used to diagnose a large number of diseases and for screening for disease. CT scans of the head are commonly used to scan for brain injury, skull fractures, bleeding in the brain, brain tumors or after a stroke. The patients at Cedars-Sinai that underwent the CT brain perfusion were potential stroke patients.

This information is provided by Washington Injury Attorney blog, a service of The Farber Law Group. We represent people who have been seriously injured by medical errors including surgical error, hospital error and physician negligence. With our help, you may recover compensation for your damages.

Contact The Farber Law Group at 1-800-244-9087 or attorney@hgfarber.com to schedule a free and confidential case evaluation. We have offices in Seattle and Bellevue to assist you.